AN: [warrily looks around at both audience and cast before ultimately just sighing] Okay, I know. I know. It's been a long time.
Yang: To say the least.
AN: But I assure you all it was not my intention for it to be this long before I came back to this story. I had fully intended on updating it again earlier this year, but as it turns out, work on my Spider-Verse story Enter the Spider-Verse: A Code Avengers Story, took a little longer than I had originally expected.
Ruby: [the only one not glaring or looking upset right now] Yeah, that makes sense. I've actually had a look at that story, and it's really good. Everyone should go and check it out if they haven't already. I mean, even we're in there for one chapter.
Sora: Wait, we are?!
Blake: Uh, she meant as in those of us who are actually from the RWBY series, Sora. Sorry.
Sora: Oh. Gotcha. But, you're definitely back to putting a lot of work into this story, right?
AN: I certainly intend to put a good deal of work into this story, yes. I'm also hoping to update both SLVR Chibi and RWBY Meetings sometime soon as well. The latter I'm hoping to have finished in time for the 4th of July because of who I have in mind for the next special guest. The idea's actually very small and I doubt I'd really be able to do that much with it, but if someone else can come up with something from that...
Lea: Hey, here's an idea: how about instead of boring us with details that have nothing to do with this story, you actually get on with OUR show?! I don't think anyone's too eager to wait much longer than the near year they've already waited for this thing, and I know that we're all curious to see certain events happen. Like how Yang's really going to react when she finds out about my meeting with Mama Raven, or what else could happen on other worlds in regards to Sora and Ruby's relationship, or even what'll happen when we finally run into...
AN: DAH! SPOILER! [hits control]
Lea: Aw crap. [suddenly gets zapped several times over] GAH-BLABLABLABLA-AAAHHHH! [drops down into a smoking heap]
Piccolo: [somewhere in the distance] DOOOOOODGE!
AN: [glances from control to where the voice came from] Huh. Didn't know it could do that, actually. Ahem, anyways, near-spoiler aside, Lea does have a point. I've made you guys wait long enough, so let's get this show on the road. I have a feeling you're all going to like it.
Oh, and if you haven't already, please check out our YouTube channel "Studio Fandom". It's the best place to get updates as to what I'm doing with my writing stuff at the time along with various other content. And if you want to look at some pretty cool artwork, we've also got a DeviantArt page now "studiofandom", so check that out too, when you get the chance. Now, run that disclaimer, baby!
I do not own anything from either the Kingdom Hearts or RWBY franchises, or any other franchise mentioned in this story.
Chapter 17: We! Are! All! TOYS!
Even after getting back to the stealth gummi, the folks from Remnant were still riding the high from their first visit on their tour of the worlds. Whether it was meeting Rapunzel and Flynn, the festivities they had enjoyed, learning some fancy magic skills, or even all the times they Heartless, none of them had could find any reason to say they did not enjoy their time in the Kingdom of Corona. The Keyblade wielders were all happy to see their first stop had been a great success too, both in terms of setting the pace for their patrol and for making sure their friends had fun right from the start, but since they were so used to the whole thing, they quickly got over most of the excitement by the time they had all returned to the cockpit of the ship.
Of course, there were other reasons why the guys were not quite as jubilant as the rest of the team. Chief among those being the matter of how bad the Heartless were in Corona. Even after Roxas informed the others of the arguments Yang and Blake had pointed out, they were still very concerned about how bad the Heartless were on this world. Sure, Torchwick was the only one they knew of who appeared able to control the Heartless recently, but that did not mean there were not others out there who could control them too. Even then, the Heartless were not so stupid to the point they could not act without some type of commander, but it still did not explain why Ansem the Wise's scanner did not pick up on how bad they were here on Corona.
This all seemed like one big puzzle that none of them could figure out, so they felt very justified in holding off on deciding what their next stop would be long enough to contact their friends in Radiant Garden for an explanation. Sora had just pulled out his Gummiphone to make the call when the device in question started ringing before he even started to dial the number. Thinking that this could be important, Sora decided to leave the Radiant Garden call for after this and immediately answered, only to find out that he would not need to wait at all, because the person calling turned out to be none other than their old friend Ienzo.
"Ah Sora! Good to see you again," Ienzo happily greeted the boy. "And I'm glad that you picked up. Part of me was worried I would be calling at a bad time."
"Don't worry, Ienzo. I was actually just about to call you guys," Sora assured him.
Sora was about to answer, Roxas jumped forward and practically shoved him aside so he could talk to the former Nobody. "Something really weird seems to be going on, and we were hoping you could explain it," the blonde said, not noticing how Sora was grumbling about getting a sense of déjà vu.
Ventus was the next to jump forward, pushing Sora and Roxas both a little as he took the helm of the conversation. "We just got back from the Kingdom of Corona, and the Heartless activity down there was a lot worse than we were expecting it to be."
Sora managed to push both blondes off him so he could speak into the Gummiphone properly again and asked, "Did something happen to that scanning device Ansem the Wise made, or did you guys miss something when checking it?"
Ienzo hummed in thought, scratching his chin a little, before he said, "Well, Even, Master Ansem, and I have each been making rounds to check the scanner as often as possible, with Dilan and Aeleus even helping out as often as possible too. In fact, your friends in the Radiant Garden Restoration Committee have also been lending a hand on that front, and as far as I can recall, we never noticed any changes in the readings for that world recently. How long ago would you say this was?"
"A couple days ago, Remnant standard time, and before you ask, Remnant standard time is the same as Radiant Garden's," Sora explained.
"Hmm…Let me check something over here really quick," Ienzo requested. Before he put them on hold, he glanced over to the side of the screen and said, "Oh, and Lea, if you would be so kind as to show them the special link feature of the Gummiphone while I'm doing that? I'm sure Sora would appreciate not having everyone crowd him so much whenever he's on a call. At least while you're all on the stealth gummi."
"Huh? Link feature?" Sora asked, but Ienzo had already turned his attention to something off-screen for the time being.
"Here, let me show you," Lea requested, right before he took Sora's Gummiphone from the boy's hands. The others then watched in confusion as the tall redhead tapped a couple controls on the ship's main console, prompting a slot to slide open. He then slipped the gummi device into said slot and the others all jumped back as the image on the Gummiphone suddenly burst into being on a large screen at the front of cockpit. "Ta-da!" Lea proudly declared. "Yet another of the special features in the stealth gummi. It allows you to connect any gummi device to the ship so that you can make and answer calls without even touching your Gummiphone, and prevents any crowding or shoving on anyone's part."
"Now that definitely would've been a big help on my last adventure," Sora grumbled, recalling just how many times Donald and Goofy shoved him aside when they got a call on the Gummiphone.
"Just make sure you don't forget to grab your Gummiphone out of the slot before we leave the ship again," Lea quickly reminded him. "Otherwise, your Gummiwatch isn't going to be of much help to you."
Sora nodded in understanding, showing he had not forgotten what Naminé had told them about how the Gummiwatches worked the first time she gave them the devices, and then turned his attention back to the call. "Hmm…That's very strange," Ienzo commented to himself right before he looked to the group as well, pausing a little when he saw everyone was now visible to him. "Ah good. You got it connected and up on the stealth gummi's main monitor. And I see you have a much larger group with you than I had expected. I take it these are all your friends from Remnant?"
"Not quite all, but a good number of them," Roxas clarified.
"I'm sorry, but I think we're all feeling a little out of the loop here on a couple things. Who are you exactly?" Jaune asked on behalf of both his team and Team RWBY.
"Oh, my apologies. I seem to have forgotten my manners," Ienzo quickly realized. "For those of you who don't already know, my name is Ienzo. I'm a scientist of Radiant Garden, and an apprentice to our world's ruler, Ansem the Wise. Pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"Nice to meet you too, Ienzo," Ruby waved happily. "I'm Ruby, Sora's girlfriend."
"Girlfriend you say?" Ienzo gasped in surprise. He then took a minute to silently study Sora, Ruby, and the faint blushes they both gained at the girl's introduction, before finally smiling and said, "Well, it seems Aqua had been telling the truth when she said someone special had brought Sora back to his old self."
"Wait, Aqua told you about that?" asked Sora, only mildly noting the annoyed groan coming from Ventus.
"More or less. She made sure to let everyone know that you were doing much better after a dance you had all attended," Ienzo elaborated.
"Of course she did," Ventus grumbled under his breath. "Anyways, there are still a few people we need to introduce."
"Oh! Right. Sorry," Ienzo apologized.
"Hey, no worries, dude," Yang waved him off. "Anyways, I'm Yang, Ruby's older sister. And these are our teammates Weiss and Blake, and our friends Jaune, Ren, Pyrrha. Together, we form Teams RWBY and JNPR, while you're old Keyblade buds are Team SLVR."
Ienzo shared a polite nod and greeting with each of the individuals introduced, and then seemed to ponder the last bit of Yang's intro before he deduced, "Might I assume these team names are acronyms created by using one initial from each member's name?"
"Yeah, how'd you figure that out so quickly," Jaune asked.
"Simple deductive reasoning, Jaune. But enough about that. I found something you should all know about regarding the matter of the scanner and your Heartless situation on the Kingdom of Corona," Ienzo revealed, grabbing everyone's attention even more than before.
"What have you got, Zexion," Roxas inquired, confusing the Remnant locals a little.
No one got the chance to correct or question Roxas's use the former Nobody's name, since Ienzo had delved into his explanation right away. "From what I can tell, most scans of the Kingdom of Corona do indicate a slight increase in Heartless activity by the time you all had arrived, but nothing quite so drastic as to raise any alarms, even to the point you all were describing. However, that seemed to change right around the time you're saying that you all arrived on that world."
"You mean the Heartless were only that bad after we got there?" asked Lea, hoping he had heard wrong.
"That does seem to be the case, based on the readings I'm seeing right now," Ienzo confirmed, much to Lea's dismay and his own confusion. "What I don't understand is why the system did not notify us of this change right away. Even the slight increase that had formed before your arrival on the Kingdom of Corona should have registered a small alarm for us, and yet, it almost seems like the scanner did not even detect or log any such changes until I checked just now."
"Maybe there was a bug in the program?" Blake suggested.
"Or what if someone just hacked into the thing so you wouldn't get the alert," Nora provided, a grin on her face at the idea of getting a chance to take down a possible spy.
"If we're going into theories like that, it could be just as likely that someone just forgot to report the problem," Weiss argued, not wanting Ienzo to think any of them were doubting him or his colleagues.
"While those suggestions are all very reasonable, I highly doubt the latter two are possible," Ienzo quickly dismissed. "Only people that are trusted allies of both the Guardians of Light and Ansem the Wise have access to the system. Hence the reason why Master Ansem himself, my fellow apprentices and I, and Sora friends in the Restoration Committee all have access. After what we went through with Xehanort, we all agreed to take very careful measures to make sure that history doesn't repeat itself."
Sora nodded in understanding of this, knowing just what Ienzo meant by history repeating itself, and then proceeded to add on to the defense. "It couldn't be the Restoration Committee either. Leon and his pals have all been good friends and allies of mine ever since my very first adventure. They know better than anyone just what it's like to lose your entire world to the Heartless too, so there's any way they could prevent someone else from going through the same thing, they'd leap at the chance without a second thought."
"Still, that doesn't mean someone couldn't have found a way to sneak in and tamper with the scanners. I mean, isn't that still possible?" Ren asked.
"Perhaps, but Master Ansem has made various different upgrades to our security system ever since the end of the Keyblade War. Even if one were to get in with a Dark Corridor, there should have been some indication that they were here. The only way they could have avoided being detected would be if the system recognized them as someone who would be allowed inside," Ienzo countered just as quickly. He suddenly paused after that to scratch his chin in curiosity before he admitted, "Then again…No one has heard from Braig since we were all recompleted, or even after Sora and the others defeated him in the Keyblade Graveyard, so it could be possible…"
"Uh…Who's Braig again?" Sora asked.
"Oh, right. You would know him better by his Nobody name: Xigbar," Ienzo recalled.
Nearly all the Keyblade wielders scowled at the mention of the one-eyed Freeshooter, but Sora managed to shake it off long enough to point out the flaw with that idea. "I doubt it could be Xigbar. Riku and I both saw him step off the ledge of one of the labyrinth walls after we beat him. There's no way he could have survived the fall in the state he was in."
"So I guess that means it was just some kind of random bug or computer glitch," Ruby shrugged.
"Perhaps, but given all the work we put into making sure the scanner worked perfectly…" Ienzo muttered aloud, sounding just as worried as he looked. He then returned his attention to the team and promised, "At any rate, I'll let the master know about this once this conversation is over. If there is a problem of any kind, he'll want us to look into and solve it as soon as possible."
"We appreciate that, Ienzo. Thanks," Ventus nodded in reply.
"By the way, why did you call us in the first place? Did you want to check up on us to see how we were doing?" Pyrrha asked, a little curious as to why he would have called out of the blue like that.
"Somehow I doubt it. Ienzo's not really the type to just call someone out of the blue for a quick chat," Lea dismissed.
Ienzo proved the tall redhead's point when he nodded and said, "I'm afraid that Lea's right. This was not a social call. I actually heard that you all were currently running an active patrol of the worlds and felt that you would be the best people to call first about a recent discovery I had made here."
"Is something wrong?" Sora asked.
"The chances of that are pretty high, I'm afraid. While the scanner did not detect anything happening on the Kingdom of Corona, it did pick up a very serious spike in darkness on another world you've recently visited, Sora," Ienzo revealed. "It may not be the world of one of the old or new seven, but all the same, any huge spike in darkness is something to worry about. Especially when the levels are this high."
"Just how high are we talking about here?" Ventus prompted, a little worried what the answer might be.
"It's not necessarily at the threshold you would normally find for a world that's about to be lost to the darkness, but it is teetering very close to that edge. Whatever is happening on this world, someone needs to go and deal with it right away," Ienzo explained.
A quick exchange of looks started passing amongst the members of the team. While they were all eager to move on to the next world on their list, none of them felt like they could ignore such a serious problem. Sure, most of the people on the ship had only heard of what it was like to lose your world to the Heartless, but they did not need to experience it to know just how bad it really was. After all, while the Grimm destroyed entire villages more often than they cared to admit, there was still at least some safe haven for people to go to afterwards. What the Heartless did was far worse in comparison, so it was no surprise what their decision ended up being.
"Send us the coordinates, and we'll check it out right away," Sora requested.
"Very well. Best of luck to you all," Ienzo nodded, and he ended the call there.
It did not take long for the world coordinates to come through after Ienzo had hung up, and everyone had quickly scrambled into their seats once Sora had locked in a course for their next destination. The trip was likely going to drain the warp gummi's power, since the world they needed to travel to was on the opposite side of the sector that the Kingdom of Corona was located in, but given the urgent circumstances, everyone agreed that it was best they get there as soon as possible. Before they knew it, they had arrived at their destination, with the only thing souring their arrival being the sound of two alarms suddenly going off.
"Geez! Someone turn that off!" Blake begged, trying her best to cover both sets of ears, barely picking up the sound of Zwei whimpering at the noise. "Some of us have much more sensitive ears than others, you know!"
"Sorry," Ventus apologized as he tried to shut off one of the alarms. He eventually managed to silence at least one of the alarms, much to Blake and Zwei's relief, and left the other one to Roxas as he rechecked his read-outs to confirm what one of the alerts was telling them. "Well that's it," he soon reported. "The warp gummi's completely drained for the time being. It'll be at least a few hours before we can use it again. Maybe a day at the most, given how far we just traveled."
"It's not like we didn't know that might happen, but if we're able to help out down there, it'll be worth it, right?" Yang asked.
"Right," Ruby agreed on behalf of everyone else, and no one said anything to disagree. Still, it did leave one question unanswered. "But what was the other alarm for?"
"Final confirmation," Roxas reported, drawing the attention over to him as he finished checking the readouts on the ship's scanners. "Looks like Zexion was right. The ship's picking up on a massive Heartless reading coming from down on the surface of this world."
"Any idea where the source of it might be? Or where most of the Heartless might be gathered?" Sora asked.
Roxas just scoffed in reply. "The ship's scanners can only tell us how bad the Heartless might be on the surface based on the amount of darkness present on a world. It can't give us anything more specific on the details."
"Guess that means we're just going to have to go down and search everywhere we can," Jaune determined, much to some of the others' frustration.
"Awww, but that'll take forever," Nora whined as she slumped over in her seat.
The others could not really blame Nora for her dismay. Every world they had seen so far seemed pretty massive as is, but something about this world in particular made them feel like its size could be comparable to Remnant somehow. Of course, the ship's readouts made it clear that was not the case, but considering how some of the structures they could see looked a lot like massive houses and toys, you could not blame them for thinking it was bigger than it looked.
Luckily, Sora had something up his sleeve that would alleviate their worries a little bit. "Maybe not as long as you think," he announced. "I know a couple guys on this world, and they've got some pretty useful ways of finding out a variety of important information."
"Alright! Then what're we waiting for? Let's go already!" Yang cheered, taking point in the rush to the ship's teleporter.
They had all just stepped onto the teleporter pad when Sora called for everyone's attention again. "Just one last thing before we go down there," he said, addressing his friends from Remnant more than anyone else. "Remember how we said there are some worlds where we have to change our appearances to protect the world order? Well, this is one of those worlds."
"Ohmygosh, REALLY?!" Ruby excitedly gasped, while most of the others just elected to smile at the prospect before them. In fact, her excitement was only overshadowed by one person.
"Ooh! Ooh! What are we gonna turn into? WHAT ARE WE GONNA TURN INTO?!" Nora asked as loudly as she could, prompting several ears to be covered again. This time not just those of the resident Faunus and puppy, either. "Savage beasts? Giant transforming robots?! Mutant ninja warriors?!"
Try as they might, the Keyblade wielders could not get Nora to calm down so they could answer her question, and ended up having to listen as she rattled off more and more guesses. Lucky for them, her teammates had just the solution. "Ren, Code Syrup," Jaune ordered.
"Way ahead of you," Ren informed his leader, producing a plate of pancakes seemingly from nowhere. The mere smell of her favorite breakfast food made Nora's excited questioning finally end, and she quickly scrambled to snatch the plate from her childhood friend. She probably would have too, if Ren had not started holding it high above his head and out of her reach. "You want them? Then you'll need to settle down and be quiet so Sora can finish explaining."
"…Fine," Nora grumbled out a surrender, and she soon trudged over to a corner in a bit of a huff. Her upset mood instantly evaporated once Ren had placed the pancakes in her hand though, and she was soon stuffing her face as fast as possible.
The others merely blinked in surprise over what they just witnessed, not entirely sure how to process any of it. Some details more so than others. "How did you make those so fast?" Lea eventually stuttered out to Ren.
"I've known Nora for nearly my entire life. Eventually, you learn every trick possible for calming her down and how to implement them as quickly as you can," Ren calmly replied with a knowing smirk.
Nora did not seem the least bit offended, but instead simply licked some syrup off her fingers as she declared, "He's not wrong."
"…Okay; anyway," Sora began again, deciding it was better to return to the previous topic before things got too much weirder. "You guys don't have too much to worry about here. This world's form changes aren't too drastic save for one or two details."
"Define one or two details, because if we're about to be turned into anything that either has more than two legs or doesn't have any legs at all, I'd like to know in advance so I can brace myself," Weiss requested.
"Same here," Blake agreed.
"Agreed," Pyrrha nodded, sharing the sentiment of the other two girls. "It would be best to know about that so we'll be able to adjust our fighting styles appropriately."
"Don't worry. We'll all still have the same number of arms and legs," Sora reassured them with a smile. "The biggest change is really more like a change of perspective, if anything."
"What do you mean by that?" Yang asked.
Sora tried his best to think of another way to put it, but ultimately just gave up and said, "You know what? It'll be a lot easier for us to just go down so you can all see for yourselves."
"Are you sure you can't tell us anything so we can at least choose what we turn into?" Jaune asked, hoping to avoid being turned into something embarrassing if he could help it.
"Wouldn't matter even if you did. Every time Donald, Goofy, and I had to change forms, it's always been completely random. At least the first time, and after that, whatever we got the first time is what we ended up with every time after," Sora informed him. "Now, any other questions?"
"Yes, actually. This isn't going to hurt us, is it?" Blake inquired.
"No, of course not. These kinds of form changes are completely painless. Most of the time you don't even notice until well after you're down on the surface. Unless it's one of the more drastic ones like what Weiss mentioned," Sora assured them.
"Oh, good. At least that's one concern alleviated," Blake sighed happily.
"Alright then. Sora, send us down, please," Ruby requested.
Sora nodded, and with a tap of his Gummiwatch, the team was transported off the ship, most of them just missing the last thing Sora said before they vanished from the stealth gummi. "Alright guys, it's play time."
"Whoa! Why's it so dark? Are we already too late?!" Ruby asked when the teleport was complete and they found themselves in a very dark space.
"Uh Ruby, I think we wouldn't have even landed anywhere if the Heartless already destroyed this world," Yang's pointed out from behind her. Not that Ruby could really see all that much to begin with.
"Relax, Ruby. We're just under something really big that's blocking the light," Lea informed her, turning the girl towards the light source after giving her a friendly pat on the shoulder so she would not freak out when he did.
Now Ruby was able to relax a little better, and quickly hurried forward so she could have a look around at their landing site. As she walked though, she could swear that her steps sounded more like plastic hitting the ground than her normal boots, but she put it out of her mind when she finally stepped out and saw where they were standing. Overall, it did not seem like much more than a young boy's bedroom with light blue wallpaper that was covered in white cloud lining the walls. The thing they had just been under turned out to be the actual bed, and one could easily spot a desk and other things typical of your average kid, but what really grabbed Ruby's attention was how everything scaled in comparison to her.
"Whoa! It's like everything's suddenly grown a lot bigger," Ruby whispered in awe as she studied the large yellow and blue ball in front of her.
Indeed, the entire room looked much bigger than any room normally should for Ruby, but Sora had to make one little correction to her observation. "Actually, we're all just smaller. Part of the form change is that we shrink down to the size of a mouse or an average toy, to be more accurate."
"I don't know, this feels pretty mouse-sized to me," Pyrrha commented.
Ruby was more curious as to why Sora would compare their size to that of toys, but when she turned around, she was greeted not with her boyfriend, but with a blocky-looking action figure that looked a lot like Sora. There were a few other aesthetic changes in comparison to how Sora looked, but overall, this toy was definitely a good recreation of her boyfriend. Ruby was about to make a comment to Sora about this cool-looking action figure of him, when the toy suddenly waved to her all on its own, smiled, and asked, "Hey, so, what do you think?"
Seeing a toy suddenly moving and talking all on its own like that, Ruby reacted in a way many people normally would. With a frightened scream. "AAAAAHHHHH! LIVING DOLL!"
"Hey, watch it! I'm not a doll; I'm clearly an action figure," the toy snapped, annoyed at the label. Its expression shifted to one of concern as he then added, "More importantly, why are you even freaking out, Ruby? It's just me."
Ruby stopped screaming after hearing the toy speak again, but this time it was because she actually listened to its voice. "Wait…Sora? Is that you?"
"You were expecting King Mickey?" Sora playfully joked, his typical smile stretching wide across his face.
"But…But why are…?" Ruby stuttered.
"I told you, remember? This world requires us to change forms to protect the world order, and to do that here, we all turn into toys," Sora happily declared, spreading his arms wide to indicate the group as a whole.
At this point, Ruby finally turned around to take in the appearance of her friends, and felt her mouth drop open a little at the sight of them all. As far as the rest of Team SLVR were concerned, it seemed like they had changed into the same kind of blocky action figures as Sora had, with their clothes now looking like they had been fused to their bodies and everything. Although, Lea seemed very interested in measuring himself for some reason, at least in comparison to Roxas, but Ruby could see why, as it seemed like the redhead had lost a little bit of his usual height after changing. As for the others, while it was clear that they had all turned into toys too, they definitely did not end up like the same blocky-looking figures as the resident Keyblade wielders had. If anything, they looked rather similar to their normal selves, with some obvious indications of their being toys.
Among those obvious signs was the change to each individual's hair, most specifically those of Yang, Weiss, Ren, Blake, and Pyrrha. Each of them had their long locks changed so they were very noticeably made of plastic, but a very flexible plastic at that. Almost rubbery in a way, but that made very little difference to Yang, who was very fond of her golden mane. Weiss did not seem to be fairing much better with having her royal white hair changed in such a manner, either. Pyrrha and Ren did not seem to care anymore about the change than the other Remnant natives, but Blake did seem like she was particularly bothered by it. Or to be more accurate, she seemed preoccupied with how her bow had been affected by the change. Sure, Ruby could see Blake's cat ears were still able to move underneath said bow, but other than that, it almost looked like the hair accessory was stuck on Blake's head.
Another obvious change came in the form of how their outfits had lost a bit of detailing, but that was to be expected, given that most toys were unable to perfectly recapture the exact level of detail as their source material, and Ruby simply focused on the changes to their weapons. For the most part, everyone's respective weapon appeared to be largely unaffected, at least on the surface, but it did seem a little odd how their weapons appeared to be directly attached to their back, legs, or waist as opposed to how they normally stored them. Ren's method of storing his weapons was probably the biggest change, because Stormflower appeared to be holstered on his legs instead of being hidden in his sleeves like they normally were. The final thing Ruby noticed was how Yang's gauntlets appeared to have been switched into full, active mode and fused to her arms, but she had a feeling that was more for a show than it actually appeared.
Aside from that, the only other obvious changes Ruby could find was how much more noticeable their joints had become, and upon checking herself over, she actually breathed a small sigh of relief when she realized her cloak was still made of fabric and not turned to plastic like her hair had been. Not even a second after getting that reassurance, she heard Zwei barking, and turned to see her loyal doggie had been affected as well. For the most part though, it looked like Zwei had shrunk to toy size like the rest of them, but upon closer inspection, Ruby could see that Zwei's fur was now clearly plastic, and his top leg joints were more noticeable as well. It was actually kind of cute in a way, but as exciting as she found all of this, the others still had to voice their complaints and concerns over the form change.
"Does anyone else feel like their weapons are pegged into their body right now? Because that feels very uncomfortable just thinking about it," Jaune questioned aloud.
"I mean, we are toys, so I doubt we'd really be able to store our weapons like we normally do," Blake pointed out, still tugging at her bow a little. "Still, it's not as bad as having my bow fused together with my head."
"Are you okay, Blake? It's not affecting your cat ears, is it?" Pyrrha asked out of concern for their resident Faunus.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I can still move and hear with them, but since I can't seem to get my bow off, they're basically a little muffled," Blake explained.
"Why? Why did my hair have to be turned to plastic? The magic couldn't let it be turned into some kind of yarn or something?" Yang moaned miserably as she attempted to run her fingers through her locks with no success.
"Somehow, I doubt you'd be satisfied," Weiss grumbled. She may have been feeling pretty miserable about the change to her hair, but she was not going to start crying over it like Yang was. She then pulled out Myrtenastor so she could better examine her sword, and soon sighed in relief at seeing its Dust chamber rotate like it normally did. "More importantly, are our weapons and Semblances going to work like they normally do while we're like this?"
"That's actually a good question," Pyrrha pointed out, drawing her own weapons as she did. Given how often she would use her Semblance either on her weapons or her opponents', Pyrrha was especially concerned with how her fighting abilities could be affected. When she saw the usual, faint glow of her powers surround both her shield and sword, she could not help but smile with satisfaction.
"Don't worry guys. The form changes may be very convincing, but they shouldn't affect your powers too much. At least, not when they're as simple as this," Sora reassured them. "Trust me, if they could affect our powers and fighting skills that much, I would've said something sooner."
"No offense Sora, but considering your powers are all magic-based while ours are something that we unlocked through other methods, you can't blame us for making absolutely sure," Ren pointed out as he checked his pistols. "Also, why are my weapons holstered on my legs?"
"Ren, how many toys do you know of that can store any of their accessories in their sleeves like you do?" Roxas questioned.
Ren nodded in concession of this, but Lea still had one last hang-up to air out. "Guys, be honest with me. Does anyone else think I'm shorter than normal?"
"Well, yeah. We all are," Nora pointed out, sounding like she just heard something silly. A sentiment the others shared.
"No, I mean aside from that, because I'm pretty sure that Roxas is supposed to be just a few inches shy of reaching my shoulders," Lea clarified for everyone, and it was at that point they all realized that Lea had a point. It did look like Lea was no longer as tall as he normally was, just from looking at him and Roxas standing next to each other. In fact, if Ventus had not been standing so close to the two as well, they probably would have thought Roxas had suddenly hit a rapid growth spurt.
"Guess you weren't made to exact scale," Yang joked, having suddenly forgotten about the change to her hair in favor of this latest chance at humor.
Once the others had gotten out their eye-rolls and/or chuckles over Yang's joke, and then finished checking to see if their weapons and Semblances did in fact still work like they were supposed to, at least as best as they could without starting a fight, Ruby looked to Sora and asked, "So is this the whole change? Like, there isn't anything else that happens to us?"
"Pretty much. Why? Were you hoping to have gotten a voice box that says a bunch of random, programmed phrases whenever you press a button somewhere on your person or something?" Sora asked his girlfriend.
"No, no! That's not what I meant," Ruby instantly cleared up. "I just…Well, I kind of figured…"
"I think we were all expecting our first world-based form changes to be a bit more exciting than being turned into a child's dolls," Weiss finally stated, feeling that Ruby was taking far too long with trying the subtle approach.
"Hey, if you'd rather have had your first change be the ones we get when visiting Atlantica, you could've said so," Lea shrugged like it was no big deal.
"Why? What do we change into there?" Jaune asked, feeling a little curious.
"Mer-people," Sora stated as simply as he could. "As in the guys would be turned into mermen and the girls would be mermaids. And yes, every guy here would've ended up shirtless while the girls would likely have ended up with some kind of sea-shell, bikini top."
The visual that presented made everyone from Remnant turn bright red, especially in the case of those who were in a relationship with someone, but as pleasing as some of them found the image of their significant other as a mer-person to be, they all quickly dismissed the idea from their minds, knowing that it would have required them to go through a similar change, and said, "No thanks! We're good!"
"Still, is it really this necessary for us to be changed like this? Wouldn't being shrunk down have been enough?" Weiss questioned.
"Nope. If that was the case, it would've been enough the first time I came here with Donald and Goofy," Sora answered. "The magic changes you however it deems necessary in order to protect the world order, so all you can really do is suck it up and deal with whatever it gives you."
The others wanted to say they understood that. Really, they did, and to be quite honest, aside from the complaints they had already voiced, they really did not have any problems with this being their first world-based form change. Sure, it may not be that elaborate, but at least it did serve as a nice way to ease into the idea of being altered so drastically in order to keep the world order intact. Even so, they still felt an odd mixture of disappointment and annoyance over the whole thing. Disappointment that the first form change was something as simple as being turned into toys, and annoyance due to how they could not have had any input on how they would look in such forms, or even any future world-forms they would end up gaining. Then again, the latter of those two things was only annoying because from what Sora told them, they knew they would be stuck with whatever they woke up with on any world for any and all future visits.
Right before anyone could provide further comment on the matter, Blake's ears twitched beneath her now plastic bow, and made her turn to see what the source of the strange noise she just picked up was. When she did see what it was, she immediately looked back to the group, and pointed over her shoulder as she asked Sora, "So whose going to protect the world order from them?"
Turning to where Blake had pointed, no one in the group was surprised to see the Heartless on the rampage. No, the only real surprising thing was that a good number of them seemed to have taken on a couple toy-forms of their own. Most of them looked like space toys with ray guns, while others looked like an odd, sinister puppet hanging down from a small, flying saucer. Both of these were Heartless that Sora could identify as Toy Troopers and Marionettes, but at the moment, he knew their identities mattered little. What did matter was how quickly he and his friends got rid of them, and so, he merely glared at the Heartless and replied, "Yeah, that would be us."
With that declaration, all four Keyblade wielders summoned out their respective blades and charged into battle once again. Nora had gotten especially excited when she realized Sora was using Favorite Deputy again, and was on the verge of cheering like a the ultimate happy child getting a new favorite toy until Ren pulled her back to the situation at hand. Thankfully, that seemed to be the only hiccup the heroes faced in getting their latest battle with the Heartless under way. Naturally, the Keyblade wielders had reached the monsters first, and were already slashing and blasting away at any Heartless that dared to get too close to them. The only difference here was that Sora made sure to keep his friends from getting too crazy with their more destructive spells on the grounds he did not want them damaging the bedroom they were currently fighting in. When Team RWBY blitzed onto the scene after the boys, they all breathed sighs of relief when their weapons responded in the way they normally would, and that made it much easier for them to attack without worry. Even more surprising was that they were still able to move and fight like they normally would. They had thought for sure that their range of movement would have become a little more limited while in these toy forms, but they were definitely not complaining. It just meant they would not have to make any adjustments to their fighting styles due to any new limitations, and from the look of things, Team JNPR had made this discovery just as quickly.
The only real problems they faced came from the Heartless themselves. Not all of the Heartless, of course, but mainly in the case of the new ones. For the longest time, Teams RWBY and JNPR had gotten used to the dark creatures only be capable of either close or long-range combat, but the Toy Troopers were the first ones they had ever encountered capable of both. Thankfully, they could adjust pretty quickly. It was not that much different from fighting other student teams and the White Fang after all, save for the obvious stuff. The Marionettes on the other hand were much easier to deal with, to the point where they were destroyed in basically one blow from anyone, but Sora still made sure everyone knew to keep the Marionettes away from any other toys in the room. The last thing he wanted was for them to have to deal with any possessed toys. Of course, the Heartless still held a numbers advantage, and it was not long before everyone started getting flashbacks to the events of the Breach. Just like back then, every Heartless they destroyed seemed to get replaced by another one or more.
None of that deterred or stopped any of the young heroes. Ruby and Weiss were racing around and slashing away at any Heartless who crossed their paths, Lea and Roxas were blazing through several Toy Troopers in one go, Ventus, Pyrrha, and Jaune were cutting down every variety of Shadow they could, Ren and Blake were setting up more than a few Large Bodies for Yang to blast into ashes, and of course, everything else was being absolutely destroyed by Nora and Sora. All in all, it was hard to really say who held the greater advantage between the two sides, even when Sora suddenly transformed Favorite Deputy into the Hyper Hammer, and then tag-teamed with Nora to bash and blast their way across the room, all while continuing to do their best to keep the collateral damage to a minimum. At one point, the two hammer-wielders even pulled a very impressive tag-team move, in which Sora launched Nora into the air with a powerful swing of the Hyper Hammer, allowing Nora to gain a very impressive amount of height before she literally brought the hammer down on a large group of Heartless.
It did not end there, as Sora soon switched to Favorite Deputy's second Form Change, Drill Punch, and proceeded to burrow beneath the Heartless before shooting up from beneath with a powerful uppercut. When he turned to see a Large Body getting ready to flatten a distracted Ruby, he instantly aimed the Drill Punch at the massive enemy, and changed the drill into a claw. A second later, the claw shot out and grabbed the Large Body, and Sora then proceeded to swing it around using the energy beam connecting the claw to the rest of his weapon, and smash it against the ground and several nearby enemies. By the time his last hit had connected, the Large Body had been completely drained, and several Heartless were now destroyed, but there were still more coming after them.
Seeing how little progress they were making in getting rid of the Heartless made Jaune let out a tired sigh right before he heard a Heartless behind him getting destroyed. His first thought was that one of his teammates had just saved him from getting ambushed, until something suddenly came up from under him, lifting him off the floor. He barely had time to think before the thing he was now sitting on began running around the room in a fast gallop, making him flail about in an attempt to keep his balance. Sure, this made him swing his sword around wildly, and the Heartless he destroyed at that point where only getting hit by random chance, but Jaune could hardly care right now. He just did not want to fall off whatever he was currently riding on.
When he finally got a chance to look down, Jaune was a little surprised to see a horse doll had scooped him onto his back and was now smiling like an excited puppy as it carried him around the room. As fun as it was to be like a knight riding a valiant steed, Jaune could not bring himself to share the horse's joy. "Hey, wait! Horsey, stop! Stop! Down horsey," Jaune pleaded, ducking down so he could avoid hitting his head on the chair they just ran under. He soon managed to grasp onto the saddle with his shield hand, and then called out, "Come on, sit boy! WHOA!"
That last one finally made the horse stop, but it also resulted in Jaune flying forward from the saddle and stumbling through several more Heartless like a bowling ball striking down pins. Realizing this, Pyrrha was instantly at her partner's side out of worry. "Jaune! Are you okay," she asked.
"Ugh…I think I just lost any reason I may or may not have had to get horse-back riding lessons," Jaune moaned miserably.
Pyrrha smiled, knowing that was his way of saying he was okay, but before either of them could continue talking, the sound of someone yodeling reached their ears, right before a cowgirl toy suddenly landed before them. Said cowgirl wore a blue pants under cowhide firs, a white shirt with yellow cuffs, and a wide-brim, red hat atop her red, yarn hair, and she made sure that every Heartless currently near them were roped up after swinging her pull-string around like a lasso. One hard pull on the string, and the Heartless were instantly destroyed, much to her elation. "Yee-haw!" she cheered. "Now that's how you round up some nasty critters!"
"Um…Thanks for that," Pyrrha hesitantly nodded.
"Don't mention it, partner. You and your boyfriend looked like you could use an extra cowpoke or two," the cowgirl smiled as the horse from earlier came over to give her a friendly nudge and a proud smile.
Ren and Nora were the next ones to get an unexpected save, when a thin, white arm of all things suddenly smacked into several Heartless. They were initially freaked out when said arm continued moving on its own, but then it was scooped up by a Mr. Potato Head toy of all things. This one in particular having the standard black hat, blue shoes, white arms, and orange nose, along with a black mustache, but he did not have a bright smile on his face. No, he was scowling at the Heartless around them with an angry look. "You fellas want to take me and my friends away from our home again, huh?" he growled as he reattached his arm. "Well you're not gonna take me without a fight!"
"Yeah! You heard the potato!" Nora agreed as she leapt forward to bash a few more Heartless with her hammer.
Ren then sprang forward to fire several rounds from Stormflower, only to have many of the Heartless he was shooting to end up being bashed around by a red purse being wielded by a Mrs. Potato Head toy. The Mr. Potato Head from earlier just smiled proudly and elbowed Ren as he said, "Looks like you and me both lucked out with the ladies, huh fella?"
Ren's usual composure was instantly lost when he heard that remark, and he quickly looked away to hide his blush and sputter, "Uh, we-we're not…I mean, Nora's…and I…we're friends. Just-just friends."
"Uh-huh. That's what they all say at first, pal," Mr. Potato Head winked slyly.
Blake's rescue was certainly an interesting one, as it started off with her easily slashing through several Toy Troopers, only to have the last one be destroyed after Zwei head butted it. The corgi then bounced around to face Blake with a proud smile on its face, prompting the cat Faunus to groan a little as she said, "Alright, fine; thank you, now go help Ruby or Yang, dog."
Zwei did not seem to take the hint as he quickly bounded over to try and get a thank-you pat from the girl, but Blake was not going to play that game. She immediately put some distance between her and Zwei, or at least as much as she could without leaving the fight. "Hey, I already said thanks. Now go help one of your owners," Blake ordered, but Zwei still stayed close to her, happily panting up at her with a cute little puppy face. "Zwei, for the last time, go and help…"
Before Blake could finish her sentence, several Neo Shadows suddenly sprang out from the ground to jump both her and Zwei, and she immediately dived forward to shield the dog with her body. When the hit never came, she turned around to see a dog-like slinky toy had sprung onto the scene and was now bashing, kicking, or even just growling at the Heartless that had tried to attack her and Zwei. Blake and Zwei then watched as the slinky toy suddenly sprang forward, wrapped several Heartless in his springy, metal body, and then tossed them up when he sprung outwards again, leaving the Heartless open for Yang when she jumped up to blast them.
Looking over to the slinky toy, Blake could only stare at it with wide eyes, even as he padded over to say, "Hey, you okay there, Miss?"
"Yeah. Thanks, uh…" Blake nodded.
"Name's Slinky Dog. Slink to my friends," the slinky toy introduced with one of his plastic paws held out for her to shake.
"Nice to meet you," Blake nodded, accepting the handshake with bewilderment in her eyes.
Apparently she was not the only one stunned by this, as Yang came over a second later to give her a wide-eyed stare. "Uh Blake? Are you okay?" Yang asked.
"Well…I mean, Slinky Dog here is…You know, a dog, and you don't seem too bothered by that," Yang pointed out.
"Maybe because I know he's a toy and not an actual dog," Blake whispered, not sure if she would offend Slink by mentioning he was just a toy, or even implying that she and the others thought they were not toys.
Yang was willing to accept that, even if it did seem to get Zwei down a little, but the four were soon turning back to the fight afterwards. At least, what was left of the fight, because a few other toys had started showing up and saving the rest of their teammates right after. It started when Ruby and Weiss found themselves cornered, only for a green T-Rex toy to drop down from somewhere and roar at the Heartless as loudly as he could, startling the dark monsters into running the other way, and right into Ven's next attack. Shortly after, Roxas and Lea ended up being saved by a piggy bank basically belly-flopping on several Heartless from a shelf above them, and then watched as said piggy bank trotted forward to jump on several more Heartless or just ram into them with his snout. Out of all of them though, it was the final save that got everyone's attention.
Sora had just taken down another Toy Trooper when he noticed how many Heartless had started to surround him, and he was just about to try and unleash Hyper Hammer again when several laser blasts suddenly rained down on the Heartless from above. Looking to where the blasts came from, Sora had to grin when he saw a blue and green space toy somersaulting through the air to his location, and then sprang up again as he karate chopped and took down several of the Heartless afterwards with his bare hands. Upon snapping his right arm up, the space toy pressed a button on said arm that fired another laser blast on the Heartless, and he kept firing until a cowboy toy stepped onto the scene with his hands on his hips. Seeing this pair before him again, Sora could not help but grin happily, even as he stepped forward to stand on the cowboy toy's other side.
"Reach for the skies," the cowboy toy slowly ordered the Heartless.
The dark creatures looked to each other after hearing that, but otherwise did little else, making Sora smirk as he quipped, "I don't think they're going to take the easy way out, Woody."
"Can't say I'm surprised, but it never hurts to at least give the option," Sheriff Woody shrugged. He glanced over to the space toy and said, "Buzz, if you and Sora wouldn't mind?"
"You don't even need to ask," Buzz Lightyear nodded, and he joined Sora in blasting the last of the Heartless into dust. Of course, Ruby and a few others were happy to help as well, but by that point, they were really just picking off the stragglers that Buzz and Sora had missed.
With the last of the Heartless dealt with, everyone from both groups relaxed their battle stances and turned to face one another. Though for the most part, it seemed that the actual toys were putting most of their focus on Sora than anyone else from other worlds. It certainly proved true when the green T-Rex that saved Weiss and Ruby rushed over to Sora and grabbed his hand with both of his little ones.
"Yozora! You're back!" the T-Rex happily cheered. "You see, Slink? It's just like Hamm and I told you. Yozora really did come to help us out."
"Well Golly bob-howdy," Slink chuckled in response as he walked up to the two while Hamm just smiled with equal excitement.
While Sora was happy to hear that his old toy friends were happy to see him, and apparently said nothing but good things about him to the rest of their friends, he looked a lot more exasperated than anything else right now. "Rex, how many times do I have to tell you?" he asked of the dinosaur toy. "I'm not Yozora. My name's Sora."
"I think you're wasting your breath, buddy boy. If Rex hasn't stopped calling you that by now, I don't think he ever will," the piggy bank said on his friend's behalf.
"Yeah, I know, but you can't blame me for trying," Sora shrugged in good-natured defeat.
"Either way, it's good to see you again, Sora," Woody greeted before shaking hands with the Keyblade wielder. He then spared Sora's teammates a glance as he added, "And from the look of things, we're not the only ones with a few other friends to introduce, either."
"To say the least," Buzz agreed as he looked over the group as well.
Sora brightened up at the prospect of introducing his old friends to everyone, and immediately set right to work. "Right, well, meet the new team, which is technically made up of three teams," Sora explained to his toy friends. "This is Roxas, Lea, and Ventus, my teammates on Team SLVR; that's Pyrrha, Ren, Nora, and Jaune of Team JNPR, and finally…"
"AH! It's Squad CSTL (Crystal)!" Rex suddenly interrupted with a cheer.
"No way!" Hamm gasped in equal excitement as he, Rex, and Slinky all rushed over to the last of the three teams.
Team RWBY glanced around to see who the three were getting so worked up about, and it took a few glances before they finally realized they meant the four of them. "Uh…I think you have us confused with someone else," Ruby told the three. "We're Team RWBY."
"But you look just like Squad CSTL. We should know. We've seen your web series," Rex informed the young leader.
"Yep, and it's a really great series, too, with tons of cool merchandise. And yes, I am including you guys when I say that," Hamm agreed.
"That's very nice of you, but again, we're not this Squad CSTL," Weiss insisted.
"Well like Rex said, you sure look a lot like 'em," Slinky insisted, and he then started to point out each girl with a different name, but in the same order as their names normally went in their team acronym. "Crystal, Sapphire, Thea, and Lena."
"Yeah, no. Try Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang," the blonde brawler herself corrected.
"And in point of fact, you guys, Ruby's my girlfriend. How could she be from this web series you're talking about if I'm supposed to be based on a video game character?" Sora informed the three.
"I don't know. How can Buzz and Jessie be so close if they're from completely different toy-lines," Hamm shot back.
"Uh…I-I don't, um, that is…We're not actually…Phew! Is it hot in here, all of a sudden?" Buzz stuttered while Jessie just smiled at the space toy, albeit with a blush of her own.
Sora, on the other hand, did not have any answer at all to Hamm's point, and instead just shrugged helplessly at Team RWBY. "Yeah, this would be the point where you should probably give up convincing them otherwise. As you can tell, Rex still refers to me by the name of a character from a video game," he informed them.
"But I thought you said that our forms for this world were created using some weird magic. How could we look like something from either a video game or a web series?" Ruby whispered to him.
"You know, I asked Donald the same question on our first visit here, all he said was that Yozora's not me. I mean, the clothes we wear kind of match, but beyond that…" Sora explained as best he could.
"Ahem," Woody coughed, getting everyone's attention again. "Well, regardless of what franchise you may or may not be from, it's nice to meet you all. I'm Woody. Put 'er there."
"Hi. Nice to meet you, Woody," Ruby greeted, shaking the cowboy doll's hand.
"Pleasure's all ours, Miss. And I'm Buzz Lightyear," Buzz greeted with a friendly salute.
Woody then turned his attention to Sora as he started to introduce the toys Sora was not familiar with. "These are our pals, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Jessie, and Bullseye."
"Nice to meet you, kid," Mr. Potato Head waved.
"Howdy, partner," Jessie tipped her hat to Sora, while Bullseye playfully licked Sora, much to his amusement.
"We heard you saved our boys the last time we were here. Thank you so much for keeping them safe," Mrs. Potato Head told Sora.
"Your…boys?" Sora repeated, not quite knowing who she was talking about. At least, not until he noticed which toys were missing from the collective group at the moment.
"Ooooooh," three, very similar voices suddenly said from the back of the world-traveling group, making everyone turn to where Team JNPR was standing. When they did, they were a little surprised to see Jaune and the others were surrounded by three, little green aliens in blue suits, with their arms up in greeting.
"Strangers," one alien said.
"From the outside," the second continued.
"Welcome," the third alien finished.
"Um…Hello," Pyrrha nodded back, a little uncertain of how to process that greeting.
"Do they do and say things like that a lot?" Ren asked.
"Yes. Yes they do," Mr. Potato Head confirmed with a sigh. "Almost as much as…"
"You have saved our lives. We are eternally grateful," the three all said at the same time as they swarmed over to Potato Head, much to his grievance.
Woody on the other hand just chuckled along with Buzz and Sora, before he finished, "And of course, you already know Hamm and Rex."
Sora nodded in reply to Woody's statement, smiling to the toys in question before he noticed who else was missing. "Wait. Where are Sarge and his troops?"
"They've been out on recon ever since the Heartless started showing up again," Buzz replied. "But I guess we should've known you'd stop by sooner or later after they showed their faces."
"Speaking of, how long have the Heartless been showing up around here this time? Have they been a problem even after Donald, Goofy, and I left?" Sora questioned.
"No, but there have been some strange things going on since then," Woody explained.
"You're gonna have to be a little more specific there, cowboy. Strange could mean a lot of different things with us," Lea pointed out as he waved a hand towards his group of friends, prompting the others to nod in agreement.
The toys had to acknowledge this as well, and Buzz soon launched into the more detailed explanation. "Not long after you and your other friends left, Sora, Andy and his family actually came back home, along with our other friends. None of them seemed to have any clue about what had happened to them, at least not until we filled them in on everything, but it didn't really matter at that point. All that mattered was that our friends were home, Andy had finally come back to us, and everything involved with split worlds and the Heartless was behind us."
"At least, that's what we thought until we noticed some of the strange stuff that stuck around from what the Organization did to our world," Woody continued.
"You mean like how Buzz's laser still works like an actual laser?" Sora guessed.
"That's one thing, yes," Buzz confirmed, sparing a small glance to the laser in question.
"I really hope this Andy person hasn't tried using your laser, because there's no way any kid would be allowed to keep a toy with a working, dangerous weapon," Weiss remarked. She then spared a look at some of her friends and teammates before she corrected herself. "Well, most kids at least."
Yang and Ruby shared a look between each other before the older sister whispered, "Why do I feel like that was mostly directed at us for some reason?"
Ruby merely shrugged innocently, not really knowing what else she could say, and returned her attention to Buzz as he continued the story. "That's actually another strange thing. Whenever Andy's around and playing with us, my laser goes back to being just a little, blinking light bulb, like it normally is. It's when Andy's away and we have the room, if not the whole house to ourselves that it becomes an actual laser."
"Other than that though, things were still pretty normal for us. Andy would go to school, come home to play with us, and while he's away, we'd just go about our own business as usual. But then, the Heartless started showing up again, and we figured it would be best if we got rid of them as quickly as possible, or at least before Andy came home," Woody finished.
"They've been popping up in here that much?" Ventus asked.
"Not at first, no. It used to be that they only appeared every now and then. For the most part, Sarge and his troops even found a way to help us figure out when they were coming. It was only just a few days ago when their attacks started happening more frequently and ended up becoming as bad as what you just saw, at worst," Woody clarified.
"That's why we asked Sarge to lead a recon mission out of the house. To figure out where the Heartless were coming from and why they had suddenly gotten so bad," Buzz added. He gave Sora a knowing look before saying "And I'm guessing that's part of the reason why you're here too?"
"Pretty much," Sora confirmed. "Some friends of ours had actually come up with a way of tracking the Heartless, or at least figuring out when they were getting especially bad in some places. When they picked up on a really huge signal coming from here, we were the closest at the time, so we came over as soon as we could to investigate. I was actually kind of hoping you guys might have heard something by now."
"I see," Woody mused aloud. "Well, I guess until Sarge gets back, we're all up the creek for the time being."
"So…what do we do until then?" asked Ruby, not knowing what she would unleash with that question.
"Oh! Oh! I can show you guys your web series!" Rex cheered eagerly, coming around to start ushering Team RWBY over to the nearest computer. "Come on. It'll be great! You guys will get to see just how awesome you look in action."
"But Rex, we keep telling you we're not…" Blake started to argue, only to stop short as the T-Rex toy continued guiding her and the rest of Team RWBY away.
Zwei let out a few whimpers of concern for the four girls, prompting Slinky to come over and start talking with him. "Aw, don't worry, fella. They'll be fine. Bark-bark, bark-bark-bark." The others were a little skeptical of Zwei actually understanding what Slink said, but given his responding barks in return, and the satisfied smile on Slink's face afterwards, it seemed like it worked. "Hey, I'm gonna take this little guy with me and follow Rex and the others," he told the others.
"Good idea, Slinky. Best have someone around to keep an eye open for any more trouble with how excitable Rex is right now," Buzz agreed, and with that, the others all watched as Slinky and Zwei chased after Rex and Team RWBY.
With that settled, the others all started splitting off into other groups, each with various objectives, starting with Hamm coming over to Sora and saying, "Hey Sora, how about we play a little Verum Rex to pass the time?"
"Oh, sure thing," Sora agreed. "Just so long as I don't get sucked into the game again like the last time I was here."
"That's the game everyone thinks that Sora's a toy from, right?" Jaune asked, earning nods from the others. "I've gotta see this."
"Me too," Nora agreed as she and her team leader followed after Sora and Hamm.
"Right behind you," Lea told them.
"I guess we'll just keep an eye out for anymore Heartless then," Roxas muttered, referring to himself, Ventus, Ren, and Pyrrha.
"Hey, you can always help us set up for any future attacks," Woody offered. "The better prepared we are, the better a fight we can give them."
"Sounds good to me," Pyrrha agreed, and with that, she and the other three joined the remaining toys in setting up their next round of defenses.
Nearly an hour had passed since the team had met Andy's toys and then split up to just hang out with said toys while waiting for Sarge. In that time, Jaune, Nora, and Lea all got to enjoy watching Sora and Hamm clash in a versus mode for Verum Rex, and when the three got a good look at Yozora, they had to agree that he did look a lot like Sora for the most part. Well, Nora and Jaune did. Lea on the other hand felt like Yozora had more of a resemblance to Riku, but his main grounds for thinking so was based on how Yozora had silver hair like the young Keyblade master. Either way, they all enjoyed this little show of video game action.
Roxas, Pyrrha, Ren, and Ventus on the other hand had found themselves hard at work keeping an eye out for any other Heartless incursions, but their work did not stop with just that. They also ended up getting roped into helping Woody and the others with straightening things up in the room. They all understood why that would be the case, since they did not want Andy to come home and see his room partially demolished, but it did not make the clean up any easier for any of them. Even with all their magic, strength, and powers, the four were hard pressed to clean up the scorch marks and repair the craters that some of their previous attacks had created during the battle against the Heartless, so by the end of the clean-up work, they all had a newfound appreciation and respect for what Professor Goodwitch had to do in order to repair the damage from the Breach.
Meanwhile, Team RWBY had ended up feeling quite shocked from their little side adventure with Rex and Slinky. As it turned out, the web series Rex showed them really did star characters that looked a lot like the four girls, albeit much the members of CSTL seemed a lot more mature and battle hardened than the Beacon students. The most notable things for Team RWBY had to be the outfits that Squad CSTL wore. For starters, Ruby would consider her CSTL counterpart's outfit to be very similar to something she thought her mom would have worn at one point or another, but she could definitely see herself wearing at a future date. Just like Ruby, Crystal wore a red cloak with a hood, but unlike Ruby's, Crystal's cloak appeared to be black on the inside, and was a little torn and tattered, likely from battle and hard wear. The rest of her outfit consisted of a black high-neck décolletage blouse with white studded wristbands on each arm, a black skirt with red tulle underneath, an overbust corset with red strip holding it in place, a brown belt bordered in red hold, thigh-high stockings that were decorated by an image of a long-stemmed flower, and black boots. The final touch was the flower emblem clip pinned over her right shoulder to keep the cloak in place. Needles to say, Ruby really liked the outfit, but she doubted she would ever look nearly as beautiful in it as Crystal seemed to; an idea that all of her teammates instantly protested.
Moving on with the rest of Team RWBY's apparent counterparts, Weiss was honestly a little shocked at how much like her Sapphire appeared to be in terms of personality, although she would say that Sapphire appeared to be a much warmer person in comparison to her. In terms of appearances, Sapphire's differences from Weiss were almost completely apparent, just from how her hair was black as soot, and worn in a much shorter, centered ponytail than Weiss could ever recall hers being. Her outfit did still seem like something Weiss would wear, though instead of being her preferred colors of white and/or blue, Sapphire's short, glittering dress had a color gradation of crimson to red at the hem. Add in the sweetheart neckline, blue tulle petticoat, the yellow sash around her waist, and sheer-sleeved dark red bolero that was fastened at the collar with a large emerald broach, and Weiss honestly felt like she was looking at her next outfit every second she was looking at Sapphire.
Blake was not as sure if she would be taking on an appearance similar to Thea, but only because unlike her, Thea seemed to have no problem showing off her animal trait. It was a little surreal seeing that there were people with animal-like features in this web series, and that her CSTL double had cat ears like her, but Blake doubted she would have the confidence to go around without her bow on everywhere she went anytime soon. Aside from that though, Thea's outfit seemed the most like Blake's style out of everyone on Team RWBY, given that most of her outfit was black, save for the long white tailcoat with dark purple inner lining. Along with the coat, Thea wore a black crop top, black fitted pants with a white belt, and thigh-high black heeled boots, with one of the boots having a belt wrapped around the thigh.
Out of everyone in the group, Yang thought that Lena's outfit was probably the coolest, and definitely found a desire to try and replicate it for herself if she ever got the chance, albeit in brighter colors. For starters, Lena wore a dark gold crop top underneath a black jacket with red lining and silver edging, which she left unzipped half way. Along with the black short sleeves, the coat also had a thick collar circling her neck, and two long, silver trimmed, detachable rectangular tails. Around Lena's hips was a brown belt, while the lower half of her body was clad in dark grey pants, and black boots with silver caps on the heel and toe. What really caught Yang's attention though, was how Lena's arms appeared to have been replaced with a pair of dark silver and red robotic prosthetics, and both of those arms apparently had shotguns in them, much like Yang's gauntlets. Rex had explained that Lena lost both of her arms trying to save her teammates in an earlier season, and Yang could not help but wonder if she should be a little more careful with any future rescues she tried to pull, since she did not want to think about what might happen if she lost so much as one arm.
Team RWBY did not really watch too much of the CSTL series, of course. Rex and Slink only showed them some of what they considered to be the best fight scenes in the series, or at least the ones that Squad CSTL had been involved in, and it was only some of the fights from the most recent season of the show. Before any of the girls could ask for Rex and Slink to show them a little more of the series, Sora had came over to let them know Sarge and his troops were back. Hearing that the recon team had returned prompted everyone to drop what they were doing and gather up in the middle of Andy's room to hear the report, and also allow Teams RWBY and JNPR to meet the last of Andy's toys at last.
There was not really much to be said about Sarge and his men though, because it turned out that said soldiers were actually a collection of Green Army Men, and if the one standing at the front snapping out a salute to the gathered group was not Sarge, then none of the Huntsmen and Huntresses-in-training could think of who would be. While Sora was snapping off a salute to Sarge and his men, Jaune looked to some of his friends and muttered, "You know, I had a few of these guys when I was a kid, until one of my sisters 'lost' them."
"Oh I know what that's like," Yang assured him with a teasing look being thrown to her own sister.
"Uh, excuse me? I think you have it backwards, because you definitely lost a lot more of my stuff than I ever did yours," Ruby pointedly corrected.
The sheepish laugh Yang let out in response while nervously rubbing the back of her neck proved that the young reaper's claims were much more accurate than she was willing to admit, but they dropped all pretenses of playful teasing when Sarge began his report. "It's just like you suspected, sir," Sarge informed Woody. "The enemy's set up a base of operations at Galaxy Toys once again, only this time it seems to be just as much of a staging ground as it is an actual base."
"What do you mean, Sarge?" Buzz asked.
"Some of my men were able to infiltrate further in to get a read on how they were managing things, and discovered that the Heartless were sending out several troops to other toy stores in the area, including the likes of Al's Toy Barn."
"Are you kidding me? I thought that place was shut down," Hamm grumbled.
"No kidding. How is that toy-napper still in business?" Mr. Potato Head questioned.
"Uh…Toy-napper?" Blake repeated in question for everyone on her team.
"It's a long story," Slinky informed them.
"And it can wait for later. If the Heartless really are expanding out beyond Galaxy Toys and into other stores, then there's a good chance that they could be shipped out to a number of other homes with the actual toys by accident," Woody informed everyone with dread.
"But how could they have come up with a plan like that? The Heartless are little more than animals acting on instincts alone," Roxas reminded them.
"Unless they have some kind of commander like someone that's given into the darkness, or a boss-level Heartless," Lea corrected his best friend.
"Either of which would explain the sudden upsurge in darkness that Ienzo picked up on the scanner," Ventus realized. "And if the Heartless are that organized at Galaxy Toys…"
"Then that's got to be where their commander is hiding out," Sora concluded for him. He then turned to the team with a knowing smirk and asked, "So, anyone up for a trip to the toy store?"
"Sora, are you sure it's a good idea for us to go to a toy store when we're all like…well, this?" Weiss asked, indicating her current toy-form as she did.
"Oh relax, Weiss. We'll be fine," Sora assured her in a quieter voice to ensure none of Andy's toys could overhear. "Besides, I went to that same store the last time I was here, and the only real trouble we had to deal with was the Heartless and the younger version of Xehanort. Besides, how are we going to stop the Heartless here if we don't go to Galaxy Toys and deal with them?"
Weiss hated to admit it, but Sora had a point. The whole reason why they came to this world was to stop the Heartless, and they could not do so by just staying in the safety and comfort of some kid's bedroom. So, with an agreeable nod amongst each other, Sora prepared to start giving out orders for his team. Before he could, Buzz came over and asked, "Mind if we tag along with you?"
Normally, Sora would not be opposed to getting some local help from the heroes of the worlds he visited, but this time around, he could not help but worry a little about doing so. "Are you sure, Buzz? Last time you and the others came along to help me and my friends with the Heartless didn't really go so great," Sora reminded the space toy.
"Maybe not, but it did still work out in the end, and like I said back when we first met, we're not gonna leave this to you," Woody countered. "If the Heartless really are back for another crack at us and our friends, then they're our problem too. So, we've all got to work together."
Hearing how certain Woody was and seeing the same determination on the faces of the other toys, Sora lost any hesitation he had before, and happily shook hands with both Woody and Buzz in acceptance of their offer. "Okay, you're in," Sora announced. "But just you and Buzz, this time. No need to drag everyone else along and risk them getting caught by the Heartless."
"Agreed," Buzz nodded and he then turned to the resident cowgirl. "Jessie, think you can look after the others until Woody and I get back?"
"No problem, Buzz. You two just be careful out there," Jessie requested.
Woody and Buzz both offered their own salutes of acknowledgement in reply, while Jaune addressed the rest of his teammates with an issue of his own. "Maybe some of us should stay here too. If the Heartless really have been causing trouble and attacking these guys in their own home as often as they say, then how do we know they won't come back for another round while we're gone?"
"Jaune's got a point," Ruby agreed. "Besides, it's not like we'll really need the whole team for this, right?"
"Maybe not the whole team, but considering what it sounds like we're up against, we shouldn't leave too many people behind," Sora reasoned, scratching his chin as he thought about who should stay back in Andy's room with the other toys. Thankfully, he did not take too long to reach a decision. "Roxas, you stay here with Jaune and Pyrrha to keep the other toys safe."
Roxas, Jaune, and Pyrrha all nodded in response to this, but the others seemed to have a bit of an issue with Sora's call on this. "Are you sure you want to leave just three people on defense?" Lea questioned. "That seems pretty risky."
"Maybe, but we also want Andy to still have a room to come home to when we're done, and most of our more subtle fighters are kind of a package deal with the more…explosive ones," Sora pointed out, silently indicating both Yang and Nora when he mentioned the latter type of fighters.
"I mean, you're not wrong, but still, it wouldn't hurt to have at least a little more muscle on the defense team," Ruby told him, already having a suggestion loaded. "Why not leave all of Team JNPR here with Roxas? At least that way, the only explosive member they'll have is Nora, and Ren should be able to keep her in check pretty well, right?"
If Nora was offended by Ruby's observation, she certainly did not show it. If anything, she actually seemed especially happy after hearing what Ruby said. The grin made Sora a little nervous about the idea, but he knew Ruby had a point, so he figured it would be better to agree. "Okay then," he decided. "Roxas and Team JNPR will stay here with the other toys, and Team RWBY, Lea, Ventus, and I will head to Galaxy Toys with Woody and Buzz. Anyone have any other objections or concerns?"
Hearing none from anyone, Woody knew that they had their teams set, and declared, "All right, then what are we waiting for?"
"We're off then," Buzz announced. "And we'll be back before Andy gets home."
"You can count on it," Sora agreed, and with that, the away team clambered up the desk and out the window, with Woody, Buzz, and Sora leading the way down the roof and off to their destination. Though, not before Buzz said one last thing in parting to their friends.
"To Galaxy Toys…And beyond!"
The journey from Andy's house to Galaxy Toys was hardly what anyone would call eventful. Sure, it took a lot longer than most of the group would have expected, given they were used to making such journeys at a much bigger size, but other than that, nothing of great consequence happened. The Heartless had left them completely alone as they went from the suburb into the city, and even after getting into the city, there did not appear to be any sign of the dark creatures anywhere. Team RWBY was a little worried that they could end up getting jumped at any second, but Sora assured them that he, Ventus, or Lea would notice before it was too late, assuming any Heartless did appear. The lack of any battles to get into did leave a few of them feeling rather bored, but luckily, Woody and Buzz were able to help with that by sharing a couple stories with everyone. Namely, their stories, and everyone found them to be highly entertaining for one reason or another.
"So wait, you're telling me he actually thought Andy's bedroom was another planet?" Yang chuckled in question when Woody brought that part up. "Oh my god! That is messed up."
"Right?! That's exactly what I thought when he first showed up," Woody happily agreed.
"I mean, the whole space hero thing sounds like it'd be really cool at first, but there's no way that didn't get annoying after a while," Yang carried on.
Woody lit up brighter than a fireworks show when she said that. "Thank you! No one ever says that."
"I mean, I'm guessing he was all like 'I'm Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger. Whoop dee-doop, dee-doop, dee-dooo,'" Yang then guessed, hands on her hips as she did a bad impression of Buzz's voice, earning a laugh from Woody.
"No, no. It was more like 'I must protect the galaxy from the Evil Emperor Zurg!' mixed in with a lot 'Buzz Lightyear to Star Command. Come in Star Command,'" Woody playfully corrected with his own impression, getting another round of laughs from Yang, and a slight giggle from Blake, who had been listening in from her position in the middle of the group. Of course, Blake was not the only one.
"You both know I can hear you, right? And I do not sound like that," Buzz commented, sounding pretty annoyed. It did not have the desired effect, as Woody, Yang, and Blake all started laughing afterwards, and since they could see how he was blushing from embarrassment, Sora and the others ended up struggling to not laugh too. Lucky for him, Buzz was able to get back at Woody a little bit later.
"So you're telling us he thought the best way to help them was by letting the guy sell them all to a toy museum in another country? I mean, I get why he would want to do it, but that's still pretty crazy," Ruby commented to Buzz after he mentioned that part.
"Exactly! Nothing but complete nonsense, and I couldn't believe I was having to tell him the exact same thing he had been trying to get through my head after we first met," Buzz informed her and the others that had gathered around them.
"Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time," Woody tried to defend himself.
"But if you really wanted to help them, why didn't you just suggest that they go back to Andy's house with you sooner? I mean, that idea must have crossed your mind at least once in all the time you were trapped in that apartment," Weiss questioned.
"Well, yeah, I'll admit, looking back, I probably could have thought of that a little sooner than I did, but…Well, you should've seen all the stuff in that collection! There was a record player, and a bubble blower, and a yo-yo! Come on! I was a yo-yo!"
"'Was' huh?" Lea smirked humorously, making the others struggle to suppress their chuckles while Buzz smirked and Woody pouted.
Their laughter and stories eventually had to end, as Sora noticed the toy store he and his toy friends had adventured through on his last visit coming into view, and then looked back to announce, "Hey guys! We're here."
Turning to look ahead, everyone was greeted with the massive complex that was Galaxy Toys, and right away, they could tell something was very wrong. With a toy store this big, there should have been quite a few vehicles in the parking lot, at least at this time of day, and yet, the place looked almost deserted. Sure, there was one or two vehicles parked outside, including an old-looking truck with a rocket ship mounted on top, but aside from that, there did not seem to be anything or anyone here. This set off warning bells for everyone to the point where they were all keeping their hands on their respective weapons as they made their way inside the store. Upon getting inside and seeing no one even standing behind the counters, Team RWBY, Sora, Lea, and Ventus became a lot more anxious and drew their weapons in preparation for any possible surprise attack.
As she scanned the area around them, Ruby could not help but catch a glimpse of a large robot toy with a gun arm, and had to ask, "Hey guys, is it possible for toys like that to move around like us too?"
Looking to the toy Ruby was asking about, Sora let out a sigh of relief and assured her, "Don't worry, Ruby. The Gigas may be able to move, but not like Woody, Buzz, or the rest of us. They're more like vehicles than anything else."
"What do you mean by that?" Weiss asked.
Before anyone could answer her, Buzz caught sight of something from the corner of his eye, and did not need to think too hard about what was currently rushing towards them. "Leave it for later," he shouted to the others. "We've got company!"
Just seconds after Buzz shouted his warning, the entire group was diving in any direction they could to avoid a storm of laser blasts and quickly took cover. Once they were safe, Team RWBY drew and unfurled their weapons into full form, while Sora, Lea, and Ventus all summoned forth their Keyblades and peeked out to see what had just shot at them. To the girls' surprise, they spotted several more of the robot toy Ruby saw earlier, now in full motion and aiming their gun arms at them alongside of more Toy Troopers, Neo Shadows, and Large Bodies. Not only that, but they were joined by other similar robot toys in two other colors, and equipped with different types of weaponry. Before they could try and take aim at any enemies, the various Gigas opened fire on them again while charging forward, intent on crushing the heroes once they were close enough.
Seeing the robots approaching their position, Team RWBY quickly moved to new cover, with Blake soon finding herself hiding behind the same shelf as Sora, making her the one to question Sora's earlier statement. "I thought you said those things couldn't move on their own," she snapped.
"They can't! Not without someone driving them, and unfortunately, the Heartless are able to do that," Sora explained as quickly as he could as he popped out from behind the shelf and shot a few blasts of Blizzaga at the nearest Heartless and Gigas.
The Heartless Sora hit were all destroyed in an instant, but the Gigas was another story. It ended up surviving the magic attack, but it was disoriented enough for when Lea leapt forward and tossed his flaming chakrams at it. Ventus came in with a powerful slash attack afterwards, disabling the large mech in one strike and prompting the Heartless inside to be ejected out of it, leaving the Gigas slumped over in an inert state. When he saw the Toy Trooper in the air, Ventus spun around and cast a blast of Waterga to destroy it completely, but that was just one of many Gigas still remaining. Luckily Team RWBY were no strangers to battling giant mechs, and they proved it by taking down a Speed Class Gigas using a variety of their team attacks. Since the Gigas was not as heavily armed as an Atlesian Paladin, they did not bother creating a smokescreen at the start like they did when they fought Torchwick during their investigation, and were able to dispel the Heartless using only their Checkmate and Ladybug maneuvers. The only problem was that it only defeated one Gigas and its subsequent Heartless pilot, and there were still several left, not counting the Heartless that were supporting them.
They probably would have managed to defeat a lot more Gigas with the help of Sora, Lea, Ventus, Woody, and Buzz were it not for the fact there were three different types of the mech toy working against them all at once. Every time Yang and Lea tried to jump a Power Class Gigas, a Gunner Class would open fire and make them change course as quick as they could, if possible. Whenever Blake, Weiss, and Woody attempted to make a run for the Gunner Class, they would have to jump clear before being bombarded by a Speed Class. Sora, Ruby, Ventus, and Buzz did their best to pin down the Speed Class, but before they could line up a proper shot, the Power Class would rush them with its shoulder tackle attack. All of this and the Heartless jumping after them to further prevent any attacks on the Gigas quickly grew beyond the point of annoying, but no one seemed to find any openings to do anything other than build up some measure of defenses, both for themselves and their teammates.
"Ugh, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I suddenly miss fighting the White Fang's army of stolen Paladins," Blake grumbled as she flipped through the air to avoid another barrage of laser blasts.
"I know, right?!" Yang agreed as she attempted to blast a few Heartless and Gigas with her gauntlets. "Any chance we can trade these guys for the Paladins? At least then we'd be fighting a bunch of robots with the same design specs."
Sora was about to reply when he caught a glimpse of a nearby open display case showing off another Gigas, and let a large smirk cross his face. "Don't worry guys. I've got the perfect way to handle this," he shouted his teammates. "Cover me!"
Ruby tried to ask Sora why they needed to cover him, but had to dash away before a Large Body bowled her over. So, she decided to wait and see what her boyfriend had in store for them, and focused on getting the Heartless' attention away from Sora for the time being. It was a good thing Lea and Ventus already had an idea of what Sora had up his sleeve, because they were just as quick to provide her some support with whatever spells or attacks they could throw out at a second's notice. Sure, they were not making much headway in defeating the other Gigas, but they were at least taking out the other Heartless, so that had to count for something. Besides, with the rest of her team helping Buzz distract the mech toys, and Woody rounding up Heartless for her and the two Keybearers to destroy, Ruby was sure that they would probably end up done with all their enemies before Sora even got back.
Her thoughts were quickly dashed when one Gigas managed to blast through the ice wall Weiss had formed to stall them and practically landed on top of her, forcing Ruby to quickly back up so she would not be squashed. She ended up backing up right into another Gigas, but thanks to her Semblance, Ruby managed to get away before it could grab her. The downside was that she ended up running straight into a third Gigas, and before she could even turn her scythe on any of them, a fourth one dropped down to join them, completely boxing her in, much to the others' worry.
"Hang on Ruby!" Woody called out when he realized the situation the young reaper had landed in, but he ended up getting cut off by some more Toy Troopers just when he was halfway to her. Buzz did not have much better luck when he made a run for her, and before they knew it, the two toys ended up being corralled into the middle of a swarm of Heartless.
The rest of Team RWBY, Lea, and Ventus soon ended up the same as the rest of their friends, completely surrounded by the collective force of Heartless and Gigas with no visible way out of the danger. None of them planned on going down without a fight, of course, but before anyone could make a move, something opened fire on their enemies, forcing the Heartless to scatter while the Gigas ended up stumbling back under the rapid fire assault. The next thing anyone knew, another Speed Class Gigas had joined the fight, but unlike the others, this one had opened fire on the rest of the mech toys. It was not just blasting them either; the renegade Gigas was utilizing every attack power at its disposal to destroy the enemy toys and clear out a path for the heroes, much to their confusion. Ruby was especially surprised by this, since it seemed to make the four Gigas surrounding her its top priority, but her surprise soon ebbed away when a familiar voice rang out from inside the renegade Gigas.
"Hey, sorry I took so long, but a couple of Shadows got in the way right when I was getting into the Gigas," Sora's voice informed Ruby.
"Sora?! Are you actually inside that thing?!" Ruby asked, voicing the surprise her teammates all currently shared.
"Yeah, of course. We did tell you guys about how we could pilot cool mechs on one of the worlds we visited in the past, remember?" he questioned in light reminder.
"Are you saying we could've just jumped into one of those things to fight them this whole time, and you didn't think to tell us sooner?!" Weiss demanded, more than a little upset that Sora had neglected to mention this crucial detail beforehand.
"In fairness, we were all getting shot at and attacked at the time. Besides, I thought it'd be better for you guys to see it in action first," Sora stated in his defense. He then turned his Gigas around to fire a round of plasma bombs from the cannons on its shoulders, taking out several Heartless and rendering a couple more Gigas inert when he did.
"Okay, now that is pretty cool," Yang grinned eagerly. "I've gotta try it out myself."
"Well, last I checked, there are a good number of Gigas up for grabs," Lea informed her, waving towards the previously defeated Gigas when he did.
Seeing the open mech toys made Yang grin a little wider, and she instantly blasted over to the nearest Power Class Gigas. Upon leaping into the cockpit, the canopy snapped shut, and Yang immediately set to work bashing any other Gigas that dared to approach her, sometimes even using her Gigas' blaster to finish off a downed foe. She was not too fond of how this one's blaster did not have the same rate of fire as Sora's seemed to, but Yang had always been more of the up-front approach kind of fighter anyways, so she was not too upset about it. Ruby was the next one to try out piloting a Gigas, and easily snagged herself a Gunner Class once she had defeated the Heartless piloting it. Sure, she liked fighting with her scythe, but there was just something about driving a battle mech like these that always seemed so cool, and there was no way she was going to pass up the chance to try it out for herself. Getting to fire a blast from the Gunner Class Gigas' shoulder cannons only ensured that Ruby would be hooked on driving the Gigas for the remainder of the fight, and she soon set to work helping Sora and her sister in combating the remaining enemy Gigas.
Ruby did pause for a moment when she realized none of the rest of their team was taking the chance to drive a Gigas, and after blasting down another one, she turned to face the rest of her teammates and excitedly shouted, "Blake! Weiss! You guys have gotta try this too! It's so awesome!"
Weiss's response was to merely dance and slash her way through a few more Heartless, before spinning around on one foot and launching a number of ice shards at some enemies via her glyphs, and smile as she replied, "I think I'll be able to manage well enough without for now, thank you."
"Same here," Blake agreed as she sent out a shadow clone that had been infused with fire Dust to deal some additional damage to the enemies in her area. "Besides, I think having you three driving one of those things is more than enough already."
Lea and Ventus seemed to be of a similar mind to the black and white duo of Team RWBY, as they stuck to their preferred methods of fighting too, but they would not lie and say that having Sora, Ruby, and Yang each driving a Gigas was of little help in clearing out the Heartless around them. Woody and Buzz on the other hand were still caught in the midst of a gathering of enemies, even with all they were doing to get through the enemy lines and rejoin their friends. Thankfully, all the enemy Gigas had turned their focus on Sora, Ruby, and Yang once they realized the three were driving Gigas of their own, so that made things a little easier for Andy's two favorite toys. Right when Buzz was preparing to fire another blast from his laser, Woody grabbed him from behind and positioned him so that it seemed like he was using Buzz as a human shield.
"Woody, what're you…?" Buzz started to ask.
"Hate to break it you, Buzz, but we need a little karate-chop action right now," Woody informed his friend, and before Buzz knew it, Woody was slamming his hand into a button on his back over and over again. The result was Buzz's right arm constantly swinging up and down in a karate-chop motion, and it continued on as Woody maneuvered them around the battlefield and towards any Heartless, sometimes even destroying the Heartless that were unfortunate enough to be hit by the swinging hand.
"Hey, hey! Not again!" Buzz protested as his friend pushed and pulled him around the area, not letting up in his button mashing. "Woody, stop it! You know I hate it when you do this!"
"Sorry Buzz, but you're able to hit these guys a lot harder than I can on my own," Woody shrugged in reply.
Buzz gave Woody a flat look in response, even as his friend continued to push him around the battlefield with more forced karate-chops, but luckily for him, he did not have to put up with it for too long. Not surprising, given that having three Gigas on their side really evened things up, and soon enough the entire first floor was cleared of all Heartless and the defeated Gigas were left either slumped over where they were until they vanished in a flash of light. Sora, Yang, and Ruby still waited a bit before ejecting from their Gigas toys on the off-chance some enemies were lying in wait to ambush them, but when they did, they quickly rushed over to rejoin the others so they could discuss what just happened.
"Okay, so, I think it's safe to say they know we're here," Lea began after everyone had gathered up.
"Really? I never would have guessed," Weiss commented with a roll of her eyes.
"I mean, the whole fight just now makes it kind of obvious, Weiss," Ruby told her partner, showing once again that she did not understand sarcasm.
As amusing as they all would have found Weiss's reaction to Ruby's misinterpretation of her words, the gang felt it would be better to keep on track. "Either way, at least we won't have to worry about sneaking around until we find the big boss," Sora pointed out. "And once we take out whoever's calling the shots, the rest of the Heartless will become a lot easier to deal with, assuming they don't just scatter away."
"That sounds great on paper, but how are we supposed to find this big boss? This store's huge, and not just from a toy's perspective either," Blake pointed out.
"Not to mention we also have to worry about what other types of enemies we could run into while we're here. Like, what if we have to fight some more of those Gigas, or even some possessed toys?" Ventus asked right after.
"Well, it's not like we came here with an incredibly small group," Buzz reminded them.
"Buzz is right. We should be able to find the leader pretty quickly if we split up to search the place," Ruby agreed.
"And since the store only has three floors, we won't need to worry about one group not having a Keyblade wielder on it," Sora finished on her behalf, already brainstorming who should be on which group. "Alright, Ruby, Blake, Woody, and I will take the third floor. That's where the passage to the Heartless Boss was when I came here before, so it should serve as a good place to start. Ventus, Yang, and Buzz, you look around the second floor."
"And what about me and Ice Princess?" Lea asked.
"Oh get over it, Weiss. He's never gonna stop, and you know it," Yang told the heiress.
Weiss simply sighed in defeat, knowing Yang was right, but still made sure to pay attention when Sora addressed her and the resident flame-brain of their group. "You two will stay here and guard the entrances and exits. If the Heartless really are using this store as a staging ground to send out forces to other stores, they'll have to come through here."
"Shouldn't we have more people waiting here, then?" Ruby asked, feeling that leaving only two people on the last team was not a good idea.
Lea ended up being the first one to dismiss her idea. "Please! Ice Princess and I might not get along that great, but when you put us together in a fight, the other guys quickly find out just how well fire and ice can mix."
Most of the group rolled their eyes on the latter comment, but it did seem like some of the others could understand both his reasoning and Sora's. "Weiss's Semblance and skill with Dust does make her one of the more versatile members of our team, so I can see why Sora would think it'd be better to leave this to her," Blake considered aloud.
"Not to mention Lea's fire powers means he can easily conjure up any variety of road blocks that dissuade the Heartless from going anywhere. I think the only thing we really have to worry about would be just how damaged the store would be afterwards from whatever they end up doing," Ventus continued on from there.
Ruby could see their point in this regard, and after thinking it over, she had to admit it did seem like a good idea, but she was still a little worried. "Maybe we could at least leave them with one of Sora's summons as backup, though? I mean, a little extra help couldn't hurt, right?"
"I'd rather keep my summons in reserve for the time being. You never know when we might need the extra muscle and/or magic after all," Sora countered right after. "Besides, if things do get especially dicey, one of them can just grab another Gigas and fight them off with that. The same goes for everyone. If you find one nearby, or if you're able to defeat an enemy Gigas and feel like you need it, don't hesitate to jump into the cockpit. Oh, and if anyone finds anything, contact the other groups with the Gummiphone, then wait for the rest of us to meet up with you. Especially if it's the Heartless boss. The last thing I want anyone doing is to try and fight something that powerful and dangerous without everyone there to help."
Everyone nodded in response to this, some a little more eagerly than others, and they all headed off to carry out their assignments, with Lea and Weiss making sure to position themselves right in the middle of the main entrance with weapons ready.
Getting up to each of their assigned floors took a bit more doing than each of the two teams were probably expecting, especially since most of them could not use Flowmotion like the Keyblade wielders. Luckily for them, they all managed to find some way up to the second and third floors of Galaxy Toys, and hurried off to begin their searches of the floors. In the case of Ventus, Yang, and Buzz, it ended up being a combination of Ven's wind magic, followed by either gliding, or in Yang's case, blasting over to the banister. To be quite honest, Ven and Yang were actually a little surprised Buzz managed to glide through the air at all with his wings. They figured his weight would have caused him to drop back down to the floor below before he was even halfway there, but he ended up making it with little trouble. Then again, Ven did make sure they had gotten a pretty decent way up in the air before Buzz had opened his wings and angled himself in the direction they needed to go.
When the two visitors from other worlds mentioned this to Buzz, he let out a chuckle and admitted, "Well, it's not like that's the first time I've had to basically glide through the air to get somewhere. Of course, that time did involve me being strapped to a rocket and nearly blowing up alongside Woody."
"Wait, what happened?" Ventus gasped in response, while Yang just stared at Buzz with wide eyes.
Buzz adopted a reminiscent smile as he regaled them with the story. "This was back when mine and Woody's friendship was really solidifying into a real bond, namely just after we had escaped from Sid's house. Andy's family was already on their way to a new house, so we needed to catch up with either his family's car or the moving van with all their stuff, and while RC was able to get to the truck at first, his batteries ended up running out before we could be pulled inside. That's when I remembered that Sid had strapped a rocket to my back the night before, and Woody did not need much convincing before lighting it. Of course, I think that might've been partly because he forgot the rocket would explode shortly after being lit."
"Considering how much you guys seem to care about Andy, I can't say I'm surprised. If I ever got separated from Ruby like that, I'd most likely do whatever it takes to reunite with her, too," Yang shrugged, finding no fault in anything Buzz said.
Buzz smiled a little more when he heard that, and then proceeded to continue his story. "We managed to catch up with the truck easily enough, but the rocket started shooting up into the air right when we were in arm's reach of it. That would've been the moment we blew up too, if I hadn't used my wings to finally get free of the rocket. One little free-fall later, and Woody and I had shot up into the air so we could glide past the truck and right down into a box in Andy's car."
"And they didn't think it was weird how you just dropped down from the sky?" Ventus asked.
"Nope. As far as Andy and his mom were aware, Woody and I had just been right there in the box the whole time. Probably for the best, because I don't think Andy would want to know what Woody and I had been through up until that point," Buzz replied, still smiling, but now with a knowing relief.
"Still, that's pretty impressive how you managed to actually fly both yourself and Woody home like that," Yang could not help but praise.
"Oh no, Yang. That wasn't flying. That was falling with style," Buzz proudly corrected.
Ventus pondered those words for all of three seconds before he suddenly started to chuckle, much to the other two's confusion. "Sorry, it's just…I'm pretty sure that's exactly how we could describe everyone's landing strategies. Except Jaune's."
Yang was just about to protest Ven's claim, but after taking a second to think about it, she could not find any real reason or way to do so, and ended up just laughing along with him in agreement. "Oh, I'm gonna have to remember that when we meet up with the others again," she noted between chuckles.
Story time and laughter aside, the three did not really seem to have too much to look into on this floor, as there seemed to be only a rest area and one actual store open for inspection. Naturally, they did not find anything in the rest area, so they headed over to the store that was simply called Action Figures. Right when Ventus and Yang were about to step through the entrance though, Buzz opened up his wings to make them stop short.
"We may want to be cautious. The last time Woody, Sora, Donald, Goofy, and I went into this store, we ended up getting caught in a trap that forced us to fight some possessed toys," Buzz advised the two.
"Think we'll be walking into one again if we go in here?" Yang questioned. Buzz's concern was not the only reason for her assumption either. The reception they received downstairs made it very clear that anything could happen while they were looking around in the store for the Heartless boss.
"Possibly," Buzz replied while retracting his wings. "I'd rather not take the risk, but if we're going to find whatever's commanding the Heartless, we can't leave any stone unturned."
"In that case, I'll head in first," Ventus offered, quickly stepping to front of their group. "With my senses, I should be able to pick up on…on something before…ugh…"
Between the way Ventus had trailed off at the end of his sentence, his pained groan, and the way he was now holding a hand to his head, it would be more surprising if Yang and Buzz did not suddenly get concerned for him. "Hey Ven, are you okay?" Yang asked.
Ventus merely rubbed his forehead for a few more seconds before he finally shook his head and replied, "Yeah, I'm fine."
"Are you sure? It looked like you were feeling more than a little out of sorts there," Buzz noted as he came to stand on Ven's other side, while Yang moved to get a better look at him.
Now that Buzz had mentioned it, Yang started to take notice of a few other things that were off with her fellow blonde. Sure, most of them were hard to spot due to his toy form, but Yang could still see a very tired look in Ven's eyes that had her worried. "Buzz is right, Ven," she informed him. "You look a little pale, and really tired."
"It's nothing, really," Ventus waved off with a smile. "It was just a sudden headache. Probably a side effect from how little sleep I've been getting lately."
Yang could certainly see why Ventus would think that. Aside from that night after the Breach, most of their group had not really had a decent rest as of late. Sure, they were able to catch some sleep while they were on the Kingdom of Corona, but that had been in shifts since they were keeping an eye out for the Heartless. Still, after spending so many years looking after Ruby, Yang's big sister instincts made it hard for her to ignore Ventus's current state. "Still, if you're not feeling up to this, try not to push yourself, okay?" she requested.
"Don't worry. I'll be fine," Ventus reassured her, his smile now becoming more like his easy-going grin, trying to erase all if not most signs of his previous fatigue when he did.
Buzz and Yang did not seem entirely convinced, but given how determined he seemed, they figured it would be better to let him do as he wanted and let him take point when they entered the store. After taking a few cautious steps into the store, they felt like they could breathe a little easier at seeing nothing to indicate a possible trap or another ambush, but given how Ventus had not relaxed Buzz and Yang still kept their guard up, the former making sure he would be ready to fire his laser at any second. Still, it did seem like they were in the clear for the most part, so Buzz had to at least take a moment to talk with Yang about something.
"You know, I can't help but notice how quick you were to make sure Ventus was alright a second ago," the space toy told Yang. "Almost seemed like you were used to being the one who looks out for everyone else."
Yang just smiled a bit and shrugged as she said, "Well, that's what happens when you have to step up and help take care of everyone for as long as I've had to. I've gotten so used to looking out for me and Ruby that it just became second nature for me to basically act like a mother hen sometimes."
"You say that like your dad didn't have anything to do with raising you two," Ventus commented to her.
Yang's silence was almost as telling as the way her smile dropped a bit after Ven had said that, making Buzz a little curious. Not that he really needed to say anything before the brawler of Team RWBY had offered up the story behind her mood change. "I wouldn't say that he didn't do anything for us, but he wasn't really in the best place after our…," Yang started to clarify, but she stopped short for a few seconds. "After Ruby's mom disappeared."
"Ruby's mom? Don't you mean your mom?" Ventus asked, feeling just as confused as Buzz looked right about now.
"Kind of, but not entirely," Yang sighed, feeling she might as well get this out there. She had already told a bunch of their other friends already, and there were still a few issues involved with this that she wanted to get off her chest anyway, so why not? "Summer Rose may be the woman I consider to be my real mom, but she wasn't the one who gave birth to me. That was my dad's first love. Raven."
"So you and Ruby are half sisters," Ventus deduced. It did not surprise him too much; he and the others had all made it clear that Yang and Ruby did not really share many similarities to each other like most siblings would, so it made sense if that was the case.
"Yeah. It was a pretty huge shock when I found out, and for the longest time, I've been trying to find her so I could find out why she left me and dad," Yang explained. "I mean, I don't let it control my life anymore, but I still can't help but wonder, you know? And that's not even the biggest issue with this whole thing."
"Then what is?" Buzz asked, not entirely sure he wanted to know what could be a bigger issue than everything else Yang had just revealed to them.
"…Ruby doesn't know," Yang hesitantly admitted, surprising both of the other two. "Considering how I reacted when I found out, along with how little dad and our uncle were willing to tell me about Raven, I thought it'd be better to keep the secret from Ruby. I did promise myself I would tell her someday, but as the years went by, I started finding more and more reasons not to tell her. Out of all the reasons I've thought of though, it all still comes right back around to how scared I am about how Ruby will react when she finds out. I know it's kind of silly to think it, but what if I tell her and…And Ruby decides that we aren't sisters anymore?"
"Whoa! Hey! Yang, come on! That's a little harsh, don't you think?" Ventus protested. "There's no way Ruby would ever think that."
"Hey, I said that I know how silly it sounds, but still…that doesn't mean I don't worry," Yang insisted in her defense.
It was hard to really say anything in response, given the sadness radiating off the normally cheery blonde right now, at least until Yang felt a hand on her shoulder that made her look up and turn to Buzz. "When I finally realized that I was actually a toy and not a Space Ranger, I ended up falling into quite a dark place," he started off, ignoring the look Yang gave him that made it clear she did not understand how that could relate to her situation. "I thought it meant that I had absolutely no value whatsoever, until Woody told me something very similar to what I'm about to tell you. Upstairs with Woody and Sora is a girl who thinks you are the greatest, and it's not because of anything you can or can't be, Yang. It's because you are her sister."
"Uh…Did you not hear what we just said about the whole half-sister thing?" Yang asked.
"No, I heard it loud and clear, and I'm telling you it doesn't matter whether your half sisters or not. A true family has something that goes far beyond blood or any other technicalities. It has a bond that always hold strong in each of your hearts, no matter what may try to come between you," Buzz informed her.
"Yeah, and besides, this is you and Ruby we're talking about here," Ventus reminded her. "Anyone with even the smallest bit of sense would give up everything to have the kind of bond with their siblings that you two have. You've been there to support each other in the best and worst times of your lives, you have each other's backs even when it seems like the world's against you, you look out for each other both in and out of battle; heck, that one time when Sora was raging at all of us and made Ruby upset, you looked like you were ready to beat him into paste for it regardless of what you knew about his capabilities."
"And I would've too if you guys hadn't been there to talk everyone down," Yang confirmed without any sign of shame.
"See?! That's exactly what I'm talking about," Ventus insisted. "If you really think telling Ruby you have different moms will change anything, then you've got another thing coming, because I can guarantee she'll still think of you as her big sister who's loved and cared about her for her entire life."
Yang looked to both of her friends before she finally smiled and said, "Thanks guys. Maybe it is high time I finally told her about all of this." She then fixated her gaze on Buzz and added, "You definitely know a lot about hearts and bonds for a toy."
"Well, like Woody said to the creep who tried separating us from Andy and our friends, I am toy and I'm also a friend. A friend with an incredible family," Buzz affirmed.
Yang and Ventus both smiled at Buzz for that, at least until Ventus caught sight of a Heartless floating around by one of the large, dinosaur action figures. "Uh-oh. Looks like the rest of the family drama's gonna have to wait, guys," Ventus informed the other two as he summoned his Keyblade.
Even without Ventus calling forth his trusted blade, Buzz and Yang were already preparing for action the second Ventus had said "Uh-oh." Unfortunately, they had noticed the Heartless too late, because before they could do anything, it had phased into the dinosaur toy, causing its eyes to change color while a Heartless emblem flashed into being on its neck. The Supreme Smasher toy then turned to fire a fiery beam of energy from its mouth, forcing the three to jump out of the way, but after rolling to safety, Buzz was quick to start firing his laser at the larger toy, and Yang soon followed as she pumped both her arms to fire Ember Celica. Ventus took a more direct approach by rushing in and blasting it with whatever spells he could at a moment's notice, until he finally finished up with an ice spell that created a trail for him to use as a direct path to the Supreme Smasher via Flowmotion.
Now, Ventus would be the first to admit that he was not the most skilled with Flowmotion, or at least not on the same level as Sora, Aqua, and Riku, but he had been practicing those skills with a little help from Sora recently, so he would like to think he had been getting better. At the very least, he was able to ride along an ice trail in a straight line like the other three could, and leaping up off of it for a powerful strike was not much of a problem for him either, as the Supreme Smasher soon found out when Ventus reached the end of his ice trail. Leaping into the air, Ventus came down with a rapid spin strike that cut clean across the Supreme Smasher's front, and sent the large toy tumbling over, expelling and destroying Marinette Heartless that had possessed it right after.
"Okay, that wasn't so bad," Yang sighed in relief, seeing their enemy was beaten.
"Yeah," Buzz agreed. "I was honestly expecting a lot worse than just–Chutes and Ladders! INCOMING!"
The two blondes barely had time to think before Buzz had started firing his laser as fast and rapidly as he could at something coming from behind them, but luckily, he was aiming pretty high so even if they had not moved, he would not have hit them. When they turned to see what had freaked him out so much, they needed a moment to gape in shock at the sight of more Supreme Smashers stomping towards them, alongside a few Power and Gunner Class Gigas and Toy Troopers. There were a few other Heartless too, but they were a little more concerned with the bigger enemies that would doubtlessly pound them into paste if they did get moving quickly.
While Buzz kept firing on the Heartless, Yang and Ventus made it a point to double-team one of the Gigas, feeling it would be best to get one of them freed so they could use it against the rest of their current foes. It was not an easy effort with the Supreme Smashers bearing down on them, be it with their sharp claws, fire breath attacks, or the lightning blasts they let out from the arrays on their backs, but eventually, they did manage to defeat a Power Class Gigas, and Yang did not hesitate to climb aboard once she was able to. From there, Ventus and Buzz left the Gigas and Supreme Smashers to Yang while they turned their attention to the other Heartless. They still spared a few attacks on the larger enemies here and there to better assist their teammate, but for the most part, Yang was able to handle well enough on her own. Not surprising, given the Power Class Gigas was built for her preferred style of combat, mind you.
Even with Yang handling the heavy hitters with her Gigas, Ventus and Buzz did still end up having to at least fight their way out of the crosshairs of said enemies, but that proved to be little problem for either of them and it was not long before they were back to fighting the other Heartless in the area. It could not last forever though, as Yang's Gigas was beginning to get overwhelmed and started taking on a great deal of damage as time went on. If they did not do something quick, she would have to eject from the mech toy and resume fighting the old fashioned way. Ventus easily took notice of this and made to rush to her aid, already preparing to power up with his Fever Pitch Command Style when something unexpected happened.
Just when he had taken three steps towards Yang's location, Ven's headache from earlier came back with a vengeance. Naturally, he raised a hand to his head in response, but upon doing so, he was shocked to see a faint aura of shadows forming around said hand. Fearing this could be like what had happened to Terra during his and Aqua's Mark of Mastery Exam, Ventus dropped to his knees and began taking some calming breaths, not noticing how one of the last Supreme Smashers was closing in on him. In fact, it was not until he let out his second, deep exhale that he finally took notice of the possessed toy, but the shadowy shroud was still present on his hand, and Ventus did not want to try and fight if his inner darkness was trying to take over. That's when it happened.
Ventus had just started trying to scramble back, when something suddenly shot out from the shadowy aura on his hand. Several somethings in fact, and Ventus's eyes had instantly widened in horror at what he saw before him. There, flittering about as they glared at his massive enemy, were several Floods, the most basic of level version of the monsters he and his friends had fought against both during the Second Keyblade War, and when Xehanort had used both him and his friends in one of his earlier attempts at reforging the χ-blade; the Unversed. The only difference was that unlike the Unversed Vanitas created, these Floods were a bright blue in color, and while their eyes were still red, it was not nearly as menacing a shade as the original ones had been. Of course, Ventus was hardly concerned with the cosmetic changes of his old foes; he just wanted to know why they had suddenly seemed to come out of him like they had Vanitas.
Regardless of their sudden return and whatever circumstances may have surrounded it, Ventus knew that the Unversed appearing could not be a good thing, and immediately prepared to engage them as well. When he tried to raise his Keyblade for any kind of attack though, Ven's arm suddenly became much heavier, like something was holding him back from attacking. Not a great thing to have happen when you have both a group of recently returned enemies and a giant, possessed toy about to attack you, but Ventus could not do anything to change any of that aside from closing his eyes and bracing for the end.
"Oh calm down, you idiot. Just let my boys do their work so they can save your pitiful life already," a familiar voice suddenly seemed to snarl into Ventus's ear from within his mind, startling Ventus into opening his eyes again just in time to see the Floods attack not him and his friends, but the Supreme Smasher. True, the Floods were not the most powerful of the Unversed, but they were making up for that in their numbers, and before Ventus knew it, the Supreme Smasher had dropped over, completely lifeless. Right when the Marionette controlling the dinosaur toy had been dispelled from its host body, the Unversed shot towards Ventus, making him cry out in shock as he dropped back and ended up absorbing the creatures into his body again.
Yang and Buzz had not seen any of this happen, but they definitely heard Ventus's cry of distress and did not hesitate to race over to him when they did. "Ven!" cried Yang once she was close enough to kneel down next to him. "Are you okay? What happened?"
Ventus jumped back at the sudden contact on his shoulder, startling both Yang and Buzz, but when he realized it was his friend checking to make sure he was okay, he started to calm down a slight bit. Not that it stopped him from panting like he had just run a marathon and glancing around in an attempt to find the creatures that had just aided him in defeating the last Supreme Smasher. "The…The Unversed," Ventus panted. "What happened to them? Where are the Unversed?"
"The what?" asked Buzz. "Are you feeling okay there, Ranger?"
"No. No, I'm not okay. They were here, and so was he!" Ventus insisted in a panic, not realizing how his breathing was starting to speed up. "Vanitas was just here; I'm sure of it! He spoke to me, and his Unversed were here, and…"
"Ven, Ven, VEN!" Yang shouted to get his attention. She then adopted a much quieter, calmer tone of voice as she instructed him, "Calm down and take a slow, deep breath. You're starting to hyperventilate. Just breathe slow and deep with me for a second."
Listening to Yang's instructions, Ventus did his best to match her breathing as they both took slow, deep breathes at the same time, letting each breath out as slowly as possible. After a few repetitions of this, Ventus could feel his nerves starting to settle, and once he started breathing normally again, he gave Yang a smile and said, "Thanks Yang. I think I needed that."
"Anytime, bud," Yang assured him before helping him up. "Now, see if you can calmly tell us what happened just now."
"I'm…I'm not entirely sure myself," Ventus admitted. "One minute I was fighting with you guys, and then suddenly I thought I saw a shroud of darkness covering my hand. I tried to get it under control, but then several of the Unversed suddenly shot out of my hand to stand between me and that last Supreme Smasher. I was about to attack them but it felt like something was holding me back. Then I heard Vanitas's voice, and suddenly the Unversed were attacking the Supreme Smasher." He turned to look at the other two and asked, "Didn't you see any of them? Or him?"
Buzz and Yang exchanged uncertain looks amongst each other before the former said, "Sorry, but I didn't see any of that. The only thing I saw was you falling to the floor just seconds after that possessed toy had."
"Same here. I just figured it had gotten in a lucky shot after you landed the finishing blow or something," Yang admitted. "There wasn't anyone or anything else here."
"What? But how could…? But I'm sure I heard…" Ventus tried to say, but ultimately, he knew that his friends were justified in their skepticism. After all, he and Sora both saw Vanitas vanish after defeating him in the Keyblade Graveyard, so how could he have been here now? Still, he was sure that he saw the Unversed come out from his hand when those shadows appeared, and there was no way he could have imagined that, right?
Buzz genuinely had no clue what Ventus and Yang could have been going on about with all this talk about Unversed and whoever this Vanitas person was supposed to be, but he figured that if it was really important, they would bring it up later. Right now, they had other things to worry about, and he knew he would have to be the one to alert the other two of them. "Regardless of what may have happened, we still managed to pull through, but now we've got a new situation," Buzz informed them, indicating the entrance they had come in from, which was now sealed closed. "During the fight, a stray shot caused the shutters to drop down, sealing us inside. We're going to have to find another way out if we're going to regroup with the others."
"Right. We need to let everyone else know about our situation. We can worry about anything else later," Yang agreed as she stood up. She looked back to Ventus right after, offering him a hand up as she asked, "Think you're okay enough to keep going?"
Ventus considered it for a second longer than he had before, but in the end, he accepted Yang's assistance with his usual smile and said, "Yeah. No problem. I'll let the others know and see what Sora wants us to do from here."
The other two nodded in reply and left Ventus to ring up the others on his Gummiwatch. Once he had turned away from them though, Ventus's smile fell into a worried frown, even as he typed in the command to call Sora. It was not just concern over what had happened a second ago though, because there was something else. Another whisper in his mind that he almost missed as he was dialing up his friend. "We'll talk again soon, brother."
Back on the ground floor, another squad of Heartless had just been burned to ashes by Lea as they were making a run for one of the exits. The redhead would normally have grinned over scoring another easy victory over his enemies, but honestly, he was just getting tired of them. That had been the sixth group of Heartless to try and get out of the store since the others had left for the upper floors, and even Lea ran out of steam from constantly casting such powerful fire spells back to back like he had been. Still, from the look of things, it seemed like they were clear for the moment, so he figured now would be a good time to make his way back to the main entrance and meet up with Weiss.
Lea expected to find many things when he met up with the resident ice princess (he and the other Keyblade wielders still refused to call her ice queen like everyone else). On the list of things he expected to see was Weiss getting overwhelmed by enemies, refusing to try driving a Gigas on the grounds that it was childish despite clearly wanting to, or even be stuck in a jam and refusing to call him for backup since he was currently her best and only backup right now. Come to think of it, Lea could not remember a time when Weiss ever got into a fight on her own, or for that matter, a time when she ever won a fight on her own. He did not count that time with the Boarbatusk at the beginning of their first semester since Ruby did technically give her some help by shouting out a little advice on how to beat it. Either way, knowing that Weiss had never been in a situation where she had to fight solo made Lea a little more worried for her than he expected he would be, right to the point he actually picked up the pace just a smidgen to get back to where he last saw her. What he ended up finding when he did reach the main entrance was most definitely not anywhere on his list.
Weiss had been waiting by the main entrance, and Lea could detect the faint, residual traces of recently defeated Heartless in the air, but Weiss was not currently battling any Heartless. Instead, she was standing in the middle of the floor with her sword out and pointed towards a spinning, white glyph. Nothing really new there, since Lea knew Weiss would practice with her Semblance whenever she had the chance, but this glyph did seem a little different from all the others he had seen before. For one thing, it had four swords spinning around the center, and for another, it seemed like the glyph itself was fluctuating quite a bit. Not just in terms of whether or not it was going to form, but also in how big or small it would be. Lea had never seen this kind of thing from any of Weiss's glyphs before, and naturally he quickly became curious about it. Not that it kept him from exercising his usual repertoire of wit and banter with Weiss when he alerted her to his presence.
"So while I was off keeping the Heartless from getting out into the world, you were just hanging out here playing with your Semblance?" Lea jokingly complained, thinking that would make a good starting point to the impending conversation.
Weiss jumped a little at Lea's sudden arrival and comment, having not noticed him until he spoke, and as a result, her glyph collapsed completely, much to her frustration. "Ugh, you idiot!" she snapped, looking far more frustrated than she normally would be, even with Lea. "You completely disrupted my concentration! I almost had it that time, I'm sure!"
"Sheesh, calm down, Ice Princess. You're acting like I just kicked your puppy or something," Lea waved in easy dismissal.
"It'd be a little hard to do that since the closest thing I've ever had to a pet in general would be Zwei," Weiss muttered bitterly under her breath. She then returned to her previous reason for being upset and added, "And I won't calm down. Not after you just undid all my hard work! I've been trying for hours to get that summoning to work and…"
"Wait, wait; hold on a minute there! Did you just say summoning? You can summon stuff? Like how Sora can summon Stitch and a bunch of other friends?" Lea interrupted.
"Of course. Every Schnee has the ability to summon. It's been a part of our family for generations, just like our Semblance itself," Weiss proudly confirmed. Her prideful smirk faded a little as she admitted, "At least, it's supposed to be."
Lea would comment on how that explained her surprise back when they mentioned Sora's summoning powers, but he also took notice of the change of tune Weiss's last sentence carried and got a little more concerned. Yes, you read that right. "What do you mean by that?" he asked.
Weiss could hardly believe she was about to share this with Lea of all people, but to be fair, he did end up catching her while she was doing this, so it's not like she had a lot to lose now. "I can't do it," she admitted. "I've tried time and time again to summon, but it's the one part of my Semblance that I just can't do. Everything other facet of my Semblance has come so naturally to me, even if some of them required a little more practice than others, but when it comes to summoning…well, I'm pretty sure you saw the results for yourself just now."
Lea had to call crap on that. There was no way Weiss was unable to do something that literally every other member of her family could do, and he highly doubted that she had no one to help her with learning how to use this part of her Semblance. Then again, he did remember Weiss was not exactly all that fond of her family at the moment, at least as far as her father was concerned, but he had to believe her dad was not the only family she had, right? It did not take him too long to ask her this very question. "Well, if everyone in your family can do it, doesn't that mean someone could've taught you how to use it? I mean, sure, your dad's a jerk, but didn't he ever think that you might…"
"My father is not part of the Schnee family," Weiss interrupted with a bitter snarl, surprising Lea a little. "He married into the family, and he only did so for the family fortune."
"Oh…Uh, sorry," Lea said sheepishly. What else could he really say besides that? Hoping to break the awkward air, he decided to try a different tactic. "Well…are you saying there wasn't anyone who taught you about your Semblance? I mean, I doubt any private tutors could've really been that much help with learning a family skill."
"There was one person. My older sister, Winter," Weiss admitted. "I've followed her instructions to the letter on this more than anything else, but no matter how hard I try, I just can't ever get it. I don't know why it won't work for me, especially since I'm doing everything Winter has told me to do when it comes to summoning."
"So what? Your sister's the foremost expert on this?" Lea asked.
"Well, it's not like I could ask my mother for help on this, and I definitely have no intention of ever asking my brother for help even if he could provide any in this case. And besides, Winter's able to summon so easily, and she can summon multiple things at once without even trying, too. It has to be something that I'm not doing right, or there's just something wrong with me," Weiss insisted.
"Hey look at that. Something else we can agree on," Lea joked, earning him a glare from Weiss. "Sorry. Just trying to take the edge off with a little humor."
"At my expense?" Weiss questioned with a pointedly raised eyebrow.
"Why break the trend?" Lea casually shrugged. Surprisingly, Weiss did smile a little bit in response to his joke, so Lea considered that a bit of a win for him. With the edge taken off a little, Lea decided he could now push the idea he had started cooking up since they started getting so deep into the conversation. "Have you considered maybe trying something other than what your sister suggested?"
"And why in the world would I do that?" Weiss questioned in return. Unlike the snippy attitude she usual had when addressing Lea though, this time she was asking with a bit of honest curiosity.
"Because you're not your sister," Lea easily replied. "Look, when I first started learning how to use the Keyblade, I figured that all I had to do was copy what I'd seen Sora, Riku, Xion, and Roxas do."
"What about Ven and his friends?" Weiss asked.
"For one thing, Ven was the only one of those three I knew at that time, and for another, I'd never actually seen Ven use his Keyblade. Just a toy version that he had used in a friendly spar with me," Lea admitted with a shrug. He then returned to his story. "Regardless, none of that ended up working, even in the case of so much as summoning the damn thing. In fact, if I hadn't accidentally made it pop into my hand in front of them, I'm pretty sure that the others wouldn't have believed it possible for me to use the thing at all. It wasn't until after I started training under Merlin with Kairi that I finally figured out how to make it work for me."
"And what was that?" Weiss prompted.
"That's just it. I was so busy trying to do it all like the others that I didn't think to just try doing it my own way," Lea replied. "As Roxas once said, I'm me and not anybody else, so why try to copy them? Everyone's got their own rhythm of doing things, and while there may be similarities between people here and there, it doesn't change what makes your style unique to you alone."
"So I just forget about trying to do everything my sister can do and give up on summoning?" Weiss guessed.
"Now I never said that," Lea instantly dissuaded. "I'm just saying that you need to consider trying something different if your sister's way isn't working. Don't be afraid to fail or fall short of whatever expectations everyone else has, because every time we fall, we learn how to get back up again and do better. So if Winter's method doesn't work for you, then you should just find your own way of doing it. 'Cause in the end, the best way for anyone to go forward is to follow a path of their own choosing. Got it memorized?"
Weiss could only silently nod in reply, until her usual smirk formed on her face again. "You know," she commented. "If you keep being this nice to me people are going to start thinking you might be cheating on Yang with me. Or worse, that we're actually becoming friends."
"Oh god, no! Don't even joke about either one of those things," Lea pleaded, though Weiss could tell he was only semi-joking. She was confident that the idea of Yang thinking he was cheating on her with anyone scared him a little, as it very well should, and she could not help but laugh a bit at the sight of his freak-out. Lea could not help but join in on the laughter for a moment or two before getting back to their previous topic of conversation again. "So what were you trying to summon anyway? Some powerful warrior that inspired you to become a huntress, or maybe a spiritual copy of your sister?"
"Neither," Weiss answered, happily delving into the explanation of how her summoning glyphs worked. "Unlike Sora, my semblance doesn't let me summon friends or allies to my aid. It lets me summon the enemies I have defeated in the past."
"Seriously? Are you telling me you can actually summon any one of the monsters or bad guys you've beaten up until now?" Lea exclaimed in surprise, and with good reason. Given all the enemies that they had gone up against since they met, as far as he knew, that meant Weiss likely had just as big if not a bigger army of monsters to summon than Sora or Roxas. His excitement quickly came to an end though when Weiss continued.
"No, not any of them. Just some of them. Namely the ones that, as my sister would say, forced me to push myself past who I was and become who I am now," Weiss clarified for him. Lea did not seem to really get what she meant, so she simplified it a little more. "Basically, I can call forth the enemies that had proved to be a great challenge to me in some way, to the point where I had to change how I do things in some way or fashion."
"You mean like when you fought the Boarbatusk in Professor Port's class last semester?" Lea guessed.
"Exactly. In fact, that could very well be one my summons," Weiss happily confirmed. That day may not have been filled with her greatest moments, but it did help her to learn how to change herself for the better in many different ways.
Lea hummed in reply, now starting to understand a little better than he had before. "So does that mean you could probably summon some of the Heartless we've fought? I mean, you've had to have been forced to change and adapt whenever you fought them, right?"
"I…I'm not sure, actually," Weiss admitted as a contemplative look crossed her features. "I've only ever seen Winter summon Grimm with her Semblance, and she's fought quite a few enemies, both during her time training at Atlas Academy and since joining the Atlas military."
It was certainly a good question, and Lea felt certain that Weiss would be pondering it for a while until she found out for certain one way or the other, but for now, he figured it would be better to focus on the matter at hand. "So just what were you trying to summon here? The Boarbatusk?"
"No, but at the rate I'm going, that might be a good fallback," Weiss sighed with a small shrug. "I was actually trying to summon the first enemy that ever forced me to change in such a drastic manner. The Arma Gigas."
"The Arma what?"
"Arma Gigas," Weiss repeated a little slower than before. "I guess you could consider it a subset of the Geist Grimm, and a very powerful one at that. If I can manage to summon it, I'd be able to call on a very powerful ally that could easily turn the tide of battle in my favor more often than not."
"What's it like?" Lea asked, now very curious.
"It looks like a giant suit of armor that wields a longsword made from the same metal as its body. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's armor is based off of the armor my grandfather once wore," Weiss explained as simply as she could.
"Just how big is 'giant,' if you don't mind my asking," Lea continued to pry.
"I'd say somewhere around at least twice my height," Weiss shrugged like it was no big deal.
"Whoa, whoa! Time out! You had to fight something TWICE your height?!" Lea exclaimed. Weiss may not have been the tallest person in their group, but she was not all that short either, so hearing that she had to fight something that big was something to be impressed about. Still, it did not make him any less curious. "Why would you want to fight something like that?"
"…I wouldn't necessarily say I wanted to fight it," Weiss hesitantly admitted, and the bitter tone of her voice made Lea a little worried again. "I once said that I worked really hard to get into Beacon, but I didn't just mean simply studying and training. When I told my father I wanted to study at Beacon instead of staying in Atlas, he said I needed to prove myself capable of leaving Atlas so I could. His test was for me to fight the Arma Gigas and win. Needless to say, I was determined to show I could beat it, and obviously I won, but I didn't prove victorious without taking a few…injuries."
Just hearing Weiss's description of the Arma Gigas made Lea think that should have been obvious, but it was not until he caught sight of Weiss subconsciously running her fingers over her scar that he realized what she was implying. "Oh my god," Lea gasped. "I'd always kind of wondered how it happened but… Did you really get your scar from fighting this Arma Gigas thing?"
Weiss paused in her previous motions, silently lowering her hand from her scar after she had, but knew that there was no way around this topic. "Yes."
"Please tell me your dad got you to a hospital or something afterwards," Lea pleaded, hoping the answer he got would be a good one, yet dreading the actual answer at the same time. He soon wished he had not asked.
"Of course he didn't. I got the scar at the apex of the fight, for one thing, and I doubt he had any intention of stopping the test unless he thought I had 'learned my place,' as he would have put it," Weiss dismissed, trying to make it seem like it was no big deal. The scowl on her face and the way she seemed to be shaking a little told a very different story, and Lea was able to read that one clear as day.
At first, Weiss felt a little concerned with how quiet the pyro had become after she revealed what she had, but then she picked up on the faint sounds of nearly silent growling, and turned to see Lea was also shaking a little. Unlike her though, the redhead had both of his fists clenched like he was either trying to restrain himself from lashing out or he was preparing to slug someone, but even with how he towered over her, Weiss could not quite glimpse the expression on Lea's face. It was not until Lea finally spoke again that Weiss started to get even a small clue of how he was feeling right now, and it made her a little nervous.
"Weiss, does your dad ever leave Atlas?" Lea asked, his voice low and dangerous sounding.
"Um…Not that I can ever recall. As far as I remember, he's always stayed in Atlas, and the furthest he's ever traveled out is to some of the mines the SDC has in Solitas," Weiss worriedly replied. After all, aside from a few times in the middle of a fight, the only other time Lea had ever used her real name was after Blake accidentally revealed her past affiliation to the White Fang.
"Well he better make sure he keeps it that way and that I never find my way to Atlas. Because otherwise, the second he and I meet, he's a DEAD MAN," Lea roared angrily, chucking a massive fireball out of his hand and off to the side when finished his sentence.
Luckily for them, Lea's giant fireball ended up hitting some Heartless that had tried to take advantage of their distracted states and get out of the store, but Weiss was still very concerned all the same. "Hey, let's not get too crazy or…"
"NO! UH-UH! This is absolutely something we need to 'get crazy' over!" Lea snapped, but Weiss did feel a small sense of relief at knowing she was not the one he was angry with this time. "It's already bad enough that he would let his own kid get hurt to any extent, let alone to the point where they are physically scarred for life, but doing nothing to stop the cause of that injury when it was well within his power to do so, and then not getting her medical treatment at the first possible chance while calling it all some sick, twisted LESSON?! I wish I could say that even Xehanort never did anything that cruel, but I know what he did to Ven, so in that regard, they're pretty even. All the more reason for me to make sure that nothing could ever put him back together after I'm through with him!"
As Lea continued on his rant about what he was going to do to her messed up father and how horrible the man was for letting her get injured the way she had been, Weiss found she could only stare in stunned shock. She knew that Lea did not hate her, but she never thought he would care so much to come to her defense like this. To be honest, the list of people she believed would do such things for her was far shorter than she would like to admit, and hearing Lea basically add himself onto it gave her a feeling of great relief. So much so that she ended up stopping his rant short by rushing over to give him a very tight hug, much to his surprise.
"Uh…Weiss? What're you…?" Lea started to ask until he heard a soft sniffle.
"No one's ever so much as implied they would do something like that for me just because they cared," Weiss sniffled through the tears she was trying to hold back. "Thank you, Lea."
Hearing such an honest, heartfelt declaration made Lea's previous anger ebb away completely, and he soon smiled back as he reciprocated Weiss's hug. "Don't mention it, Weiss," he replied. "Besides, you know it's not just me. The rest of the guys, your teammates, and all of our other friends from Beacon have your back now."
Weiss nodded to show she understood, but still did not break the hug for a few minutes. Once she felt any chance of her breaking down into a sobbing mess had passed, she finally pulled back and rubbed her eyes a little before looking to Lea again. "So…We're probably not ever going to tell anyone about this, right?"
"Hey, that's up to you, sister. I'm not the least bit worried about how my image gets affected if people find out about this," Lea shrugged, giving the impression that he did not care.
"Oh really?" Weiss asked skeptically, a knowing smirk now on her face.
"Hey, it's not like my soft side is a huge secret. Especially if you were to have any conversations about me with Xion and Roxas," Lea pointed out.
Weiss would give him that, but before either of them could comment further, Lea's Gummiwatch and Gummiphone started ringing. Raising the wrist device up, Lea quickly tapped it to answer, and Weiss scooted in a little closer so she could better listen in on the conversation. "Guys, this is Ven. Yang, Buzz, and I have secured the second floor, but we ended up running into a trap in the last shop," the blonde Keybearer said over the conference call. "We were able to fight our way out, but the shutters got dropped down and now we're stuck inside."
"What shop are you guys in right now?" Sora asked from his end of the call.
"We're in Action Figures. The same store that Rex had been taken to by the Heartless the last time you were here," Buzz replied on Ven's behalf.
"And you guys have finished checking the rest of the floor?" Sora asked just to be certain.
"That's affirmative," Buzz confirmed.
"Alright, then that makes things easier for everyone," Sora decided. "You guys head through the vents to Babies & Toddlers on the third floor. Woody, Ruby, Blake, and I will meet you guys there, and we can cover the rest of both that store and this floor together."
"And what about me and Ice Princess? You want us to keep hanging out downstairs or head up to meet you guys?" Lea asked.
"It might be better for you to stay where you are for now," Woody suggested. "No telling how bad the Heartless will get once they realize the entrance is unguarded again."
"But you're going to need all the help you can get once you find whoever's behind all this, won't you?" Weiss asked.
"Weiss has a point. Maybe once we've narrowed down the exact location of our big bad, we can have them meet up with us there," Ruby offered.
"I can get on board with that," Lea agreed, with Weiss letting out an affirmative hum too.
"Alright, we'll be in touch as soon as we've got a solid lead," Sora confirmed, and with that the call ended.
With their jobs now finalized, Weiss looked to Lea and asked, "So what should we do now?"
"Hmm… That's a good question," Lea admitted, and he crossed his arms in thought. "It's not like there's a bunch of Heartless lining up for us to fight right at this second, and as far as I can tell, most of them are trying to get out this way, so…" He looked to Weiss and smirked as he finished, "Why don't we work on that summoning of yours a little more, huh?"
Weiss brightened up a little and immediately set to work, but just as she was about to create the glyph, she cast Lea an uncertain look before asking, "You said that you trained alongside of Kairi right?"
"Yeah, what of it?" Lea questioned, already having a good hunch as to who might have told Weiss about the lost Princess of Heart.
"Do you think you could tell me a little more about her?" Weiss requested much to Lea's surprise. "I mean, I was the last person on Team RWBY to know, so obviously I still have a lot more questions about her than the other three."
Lea crossed his arms again as he considered the request, before he finally shrugged and said, "I guess it couldn't hurt, but don't you need to concentrate in order to make that summoning thing work?"
"I can't exactly expect every place I use the technique to be free of all distractions, and who knows? Maybe I'll get some ideas listening to you talk about her," Weiss pointed out. When Lea gave her a questioning look, Weiss rolled her eyes and said, "Yes, I'm well aware of what I just said."
"Alright, alright. I'll humor you," Lea agreed, finding a shelf to lean back against as he watched Weiss work. "Fair warning though, my experiences with Kairi were not all sunshine and rainbows. Especially since we first met each other back when I was Axel. Which is kind of weird since we're both originally from Radiant Garden, but then again, that world isn't exactly all that small."
Once again, a small smile worked its way onto Weiss's face unbidden, and as she listened to Lea's tales of his experiences with Kairi, she had to wonder if maybe they really were becoming better friends after all.
Aside from Kid Korral and Babies & Toddlers, Sora's group had searched just about the entire third floor except, and after hearing what they had from Ven's group, they were easily able to determine which shop they should knock off the list next. Sora was especially glad that their search of the video game shop did not yield anything other than a few Heartless to fight off. He had no desire to be sucked into Verum Rex: Beat of Lead a second time, no matter how much Ruby begged and pleaded for him to see if it even was possible from the second she learned about the experience. Sure, it was cute to see how excited she got over the idea of literally entering the world of a video game, but considering they had more important things to worry about, Sora did not think it would be a great time to risk any tests like that.
While Woody also enjoyed seeing how excitable Ruby was about playing around on this world, he was right there with the others in noticing how subdued Blake appeared to be. Not to say he thought she was not enjoying herself at all, but from where Woody was standing, it seemed like Blake had far too much on her mind to really enjoy anything about this adventure. Sora had assured him that Blake was better about not letting a mission's goals take over her life now, but Woody had to wonder how true that was. If Blake was anything like Buzz used to be back when he was in his old Space Ranger Phase, then the girl could certainly use a little help with lightening up. In fact, Woody would have been the first to take a chance and try doing something about that were it not for one crucial detail: Sora was part of their group too.
They were just about halfway to Babies & Toddlers when Sora suddenly dashed over to a cart on the side with a wide grin. "Hey guys," he called, snickering a little as he tried to hold back his laughter. "Come here for a sec."
Woody had easily recognized the cart Sora had raced over towards, and felt the humored smirk forming on his face before it had even started, but Ruby and Blake were an entirely different story. The two had just followed Sora's instructions without any clue as to what he might have been planning. Once they were close enough, Sora used his Keyblade to hit the valve on the cart, releasing a small amount of steam that encompassed the entire group. Thinking Sora had done that because an enemy was nearby, Ruby and Blake immediately drew their weapons so that they would be ready to fight, but ended up very confused when they saw absolutely no sign of the Heartless anywhere.
"Sora, what gives? What'd you do that…?" Ruby started to ask, only to stop short when she noticed her voice had become a lot squeakier. "Hey! What happened to my voice?!"
Woody could only chuckle along with Sora, both their voices having turned just as squeaky as Ruby's. "Shoulda known you'd do this again, Sora," Woody laughed in what he had described to Buzz as his alien voice.
"Duh, it's fun being this squeaky," Sora cheered. He turned to flash a grin at the girls and said, "Don't be shy, girls. Come over to the squeaky side. We have cookies!"
Ruby could not help but start giggling at that statement, but still continued speaking in her squeaky voice. "Blake. Blake! You've gotta do it too," Ruby cheered her friend on, only for the cat Faunus to rapidly shake her head. "Oh come on, Blake! Squeak with us!"
Blake shook her head again, this time lowering her head and pursing her lips a little in a conscious effort to prevent any sound from escaping. Too bad for her, Sora got a devious look in his eyes that showed he was determined to get her squeaking. A simple shared look with Ruby helped get the hooded huntress in on the plan without a second thought, and before she could even think to react, Blake had been tackled and held in place by both of her friends. She was about to try and use her Semblance to escape when she felt a number of rapid pokes running up her sides, and prompting a small snort of laughter out of her. Before long, Sora and Ruby had launched a full-on tickle attack that had Blake belting out an endless peel of laughter with almost no end in sight.
"Hahaha, st-stop it! Ruby! S-Sora! Come on," Blake laughed squeakily. "Please! Th-that tickles! HAHAHAHAHA!"
"Yeah, that's the idea!" Sora cheered, his squeaky voice slowly fading out to his normal one already.
Ruby grinned almost just as much as she listened to her friend's squeaky laughter. "Hey Blake, I think you're starting to turn into a mouse Faunus with how squeaky you are," she joked.
"Th-that's not funny! Now kn-knock it off already! Please!" Blake pleaded through her squeaky laughter. Too bad for her, neither of her two friends let up until the helium in their lungs had faded away and their voices had returned to normal. "Oh my god," Blake panted in her normal voice. "You two…are absolutely…terrible."
"Aw, you know you had fun with it," Sora shrugged with his hands resting behind his head. "Besides, why not have a little fun while we're in toy form?"
"Yeah, Blake. Toys are supposed to be a lot of fun after all," Ruby grinned in agreement.
"I wouldn't really know. I didn't have very many toys or even time to play with toys growing up in the White Fang. Even when I was at home in Menagerie with my family, we didn't really spend much time just playing around," Blake reminded the two leaders.
Ruby and Sora's moods quickly fell at the reminder, but Woody was not about to let the good mood die. "Maybe you didn't back then, but now, I'd say you're able to make up for lost time so long as you're here," Woody insisted. "After all, you don't have to be a certain age to have fun with toys."
"Yeah, Woody's right. Anyone can play around and have fun with toys. The only thing that ever really changes is what kind of toys you play with," Sora readily agreed.
"And how big they end up becoming," Ruby added on, her mind automatically going to how Yang went from riding her bicycle to driving around on Bumblebee.
Blake smiled in thanks to her friends for their words, and started feeling like she really could have some more fun with being a toy for a while even as they stepped into Babies & Toddlers. Just after getting inside though, Ruby suddenly recalled something Blake had mentioned before, and had to ask about it. "Hey Blake," she called, getting a hum of acknowledgment from her teammate. "Did you say you were from Menagerie? As in the All-Faunus island nation?"
Blake stopped in her tracks when she realized she had in fact mentioned that, but after a few seconds, she reasoned that there was not really any harm in talking about it. "Yeah, I did," Blake confirmed. "I was actually born in Menagerie, and spent most of my childhood living there even when I started taking a more active role in the White Fang's rallies. And for the record, it's not entirely made up of Faunus. There are a small number of humans living there, but a good majority of the population is made up of Faunus."
"Whoa! You're an islander kid?!" Sora exclaimed with excitement. It was not like he met very many people with similar backgrounds to his during his travels to other worlds, so his excitement was understandable. "How come you never mentioned that before?"
"Don't get too excited, Sora. Menagerie's not like Destiny Islands. At least, I'm assuming it's not based on what you've told us," Blake cautioned the boy.
"Then what is it like?" Ruby asked, honestly curious.
"In a word…cramped. Very, very cramped," Blake sighed a little irritably. "But what do you expect when you take an entire species and put them on an island that's two-thirds desert?"
"What?! Two-thirds desert?!" Sora and Ruby both exclaimed.
"That doesn't sound like an entirely bad thing to me, but I may be a little biased," Woody shrugged, smiling a little as he referenced his cowboy toy status.
"It's not just a matter of how much or how little desert it may be. The wildlife is incredibly dangerous, to the point where most people would say that it's just as if not more dangerous than the deserts in Vacuo," Blake revealed.
"Oh…well, is it really all that bad?" Woody asked, not really sure what else he could say or ask at this point.
"Not all of it, but it did take some time before we were able to finally make the best of things," Blake shrugged, a fond reminiscent smile finally working its way onto her face. "The proof is in the largest settlement, and what some would consider the capital of Menagerie: Kuo Kuana."
"Hey yeah, I've heard about that place," Ruby admitted, surprising Blake a little. "Dad and Uncle Qrow used to tell me and Yang a bunch of stories about it when we were little, and I may have done a little reading up on it when I was still attending Signal. Is it really as beautiful as they say, or anything like the pictures in some of the books?"
Blake's smile grew a bit more at hearing how interested her friend was in her home, and could not help but admit, "Actually, it's even better."
"Wow," Ruby breathed. "I wish I could go and visit it someday."
"Seriously? You really want to visit Menagerie?" Blake asked, now even more surprised than before. Never in all her life had she heard of any human wanting to visit the Faunus nation. If that had come from Sora or any of the other Keyblade wielders, she would have understood a little better, but then again, considering Ruby was the one who said it, maybe she should not be too surprised.
"Of course," Ruby confirmed. "Before I came to Beacon, I hardly ever so much as saw more than a few Faunus, and after seeing how they get treated by everyone else, I can't help but feel curious as to how it would feel to be in a place where they don't have to worry about that. Sure, it might mean that I'd be on the other end of the things that they probably go through, but I wouldn't mind. If anything, I think it'd help me to better understand what so many Faunus go through so that I can help make the world a better place for everyone, human and Faunus."
Hearing Ruby say all this made Blake think back to their first night at Beacon when she properly met the young girl, and she could only smile at seeing how strong the girl's optimism still seemed to be. All the same, Blake could not help but worry that something could happen that would make Ruby lose that cheerful optimism, and yet somehow, another small part of her felt pretty confident that would never happen. Still, the bigger part of her won out in what she said next.
"Ruby, do me a favor, and don't ever change," Blake requested. "Or at the very least, never lose that optimism of yours."
"Huh?" Ruby asked, a little lost as to where that had come from all of a sudden, but she still managed to grant Blake's request. "Oh, don't worry, Blake. I don't ever plan on doing anything less."
"Good, because the world needs a lot more people like you in it," Blake stated. She then added one last thing with a knowing look in Sora's direction as she added, "Whether they come from other worlds or not."
The young couple just grinned at Blake's compliment and they all then set to work searching the store for any signs of the Heartless or their boss. They did not find any signs of the latter, but they definitely found plenty of the former. Luckily, it was mostly Toy Troopers, Marionettes, and a few Large Bodies, but given just how many Marionettes there were, and the fact they were in a shop full of stuffed toys and dolls, Ruby and Blake would be lying if they said any desire they had to go near such things again anytime soon had not been diminished at least a little bit. At least, that was what they were thinking until Ruby spotted a doll house and realized they were all just big enough to go inside and explore it like they would a regular house.
The experience was very surreal if you were to ask Blake, mainly because Ruby had somehow dragged both her and Sora into basically playing a game of house. As a result, Ruby and Sora had ended up as Blake's pretend parents for a good few minutes or so, and if their little imagined scenario was any indication, Blake would say that the couple would very likely to end up as good parents someday. Or at the very least, very doting ones, considering how many times Mama Ruby offered her "freshly baked" cookies for being a good little girl, while Sora happily cheered her up when she pretended to burn herself a little trying to pick one up. When Blake mentioned her thoughts to Ruby and Sora, they both turned bright red and stuttered various complaints about her teasing them, much to her amusement. Right when they were about to get back into the scenario though, something else caught Blake's eye that got her especially excited.
"No way. Is that really what I think it is?" Blake quietly asked as she rushed out of the doll house and over to a section of the store that Sora remembered quite well from his last visit to this world. When she reached the object in question, her eyes brightened up with new excitement as she confirmed she had not been seeing things. "Oh my god! An actual record player! I haven't seen one of these in years!"
"Geez Blake, I didn't know you had such a thing for music," Ruby noted as she and Sora came up onto the shelf she found the record player on.
"Well, I wouldn't say I have a huge thing for it, but my mother had a record player that she would use to play old music records for us all the time when I was little. You know, in between White Fang protests, rallies, and other related jobs or events," Blake absently admitted as she scanned the device for any kind of controls. "I wonder if we can this going."
"Of course we can," Woody informed her, coming up from behind the group with an eager smile. "I mean, come on, Blake. Haven't you ever used a record player before?"
"Not me personally," Blake started to say only to stop when Woody and Sora ended up jumping onto the disk that was already loaded into the player. "Uh what're you two…?"
"Watch and learn," Woody instructed, and before either of the girls knew it, Woody and Sora had started running on top of the disk, getting the player going with every step they took.
"What the…?" Blake gasped in surprise. She was pretty sure that this was not how her mother made her record player work, but it clearly worked for her friends.
"Hey Blake! Take a look over there," Ruby suddenly cheered, making Blake turn to see a toy animal orchestra had started playing along to the music from the record player, much to hers and Ruby's amusement.
The orchestra's tempo suddenly picked up the pace in their tempo, and a quick glance over to Woody and Sora helped the girls realize why. The two had broken out into a rapid sprint and caused the music to play very fast as a result. Right when they had resumed a simple walking speed, Woody looked to Sora and said, "Okay now, slow."
"Oh my gosh," Ruby laughed as she watched the two on the record player start moving in a very exaggerated slow motion, the music's tempo slowing down to a crawl in response.
"You guys are crazy," Blake could not help but laugh along in amusement. She definitely did not remember having this much fun listening to her mom's record player. Her amusement was about to increase pretty quickly though.
"Get along, partner!" Woody cheered when he suddenly pulled Blake up onto the record with him and Sora. "Oh, and heads up."
In a show of very impressive reflexes, Woody jumped over the player's needle, and Blake had to follow soon after just to ensure she would not follow off when her foot collided with it. Apparently a simple jump was not quite enough to impress the others though. "Not bad," Sora commented to Blake after she landed. "But you can do better than that, right?"
Surprisingly, Blake took that challenge, and the next time she came close to hitting the needle, she not only jumped over it, she flipped over it with a great deal of flair and an excited cheer, much to Woody and Sora's amusement. After that point, she joined them both in their record run, keeping the music at its usual tempo as they jogged along, and it stayed that way until Ruby decided to join in too. The young, rising huntress's inclusion on the run came about after Ruby had used her Semblance to jump on with them, and as a result, Woody, Blake, and Sora were nearly thrown off the disk by the sudden speed increase. Luckily they were able to adjust quickly enough, and they were all soon enjoying a high-speed tempo of music as they ran along together, laughing joyously the entire time.
Their run had to end eventually, but no one expected the end to be so abrupt, or for it to come when they heard a familiar voice suddenly and humorously ask them all, "What in the world are you guys doing?"
"YANG!" Ruby and Blake both exclaimed, but surprisingly, it was the cat Faunus of the two who ended up tripping over her feet in shock. Since all four of them were running on the record player, and there was not much room on said player to begin with, the second Blake tripped all four of them ended up being knocked over and sent spinning. A few more rotations and Sora's crew ended up flying to the floor, right at the feet of Buzz, Ventus, and a very amused Yang.
"Hey, looks like you guys were spun right around," Yang joked, much to everyone's groaning displeasure.
"Yang," Ruby moaned, ready to throw out her usual pleas in response to her sister's puns, but Yang stopped her short.
"Ah, ah Sis. You guys don't get to tell me to stop the puns this time. Not when you were all getting in tune with your inner child," Yang punned once more, making Ruby deflate, and Ventus and Buzz groan along with the others. "Oh come on guys! Even Blake looked like she was enjoying it. She seemed like she was really…feline the beat."
"Boo!" Sora jeered with a thumbs-down. If Blake was not going to say or do anything besides groan at her partner's bad puns, he would.
"Sheesh. Lea really is the only one who enjoys my song of humor," Yang punned again.
"Oh my gosh! Make it stop!" Blake pleaded.
"Is she always like this?" Buzz asked of the others, hoping the answer was no. Ventus wished he did not have to disappoint him.
"Only on the days that end with a 'Y,'" Ventus sighed dejectedly.
Woody and Buzz both winced a little at this, right before Ruby said, "Trust me, it could be a lot worse."
"How exactly?" asked Woody.
"Two ways. One, you could've had to grow up with it like I did, and two, our dad could be here too," Ruby replied. Everyone felt very sympathetic for Ruby when she made her first point, but her second one just left them confused. Until she elaborated a little more. "Where do you think she gets it from?"
Their sympathies for Ruby increased tenfold upon hearing that, and Buzz had no problem with marching over to Ruby, placing a hand on her shoulder, and saying, "You have my deepest sympathies."
"Same here," Woody nodded in agreement, and the other three silently did the same.
Yang looked ready to either protest their criticism or make another pun, when Sora cut her off before she could start again. "So anyway, we've covered everything on this floor aside from Kid Korral," he informed the other group. "And considering that's where we found a Dark Corridor into another realm that Xehanort and a Heartless Boss were hiding in last time I was here…"
"There's a good chance that's where our big bad might be hiding," Woody finished for his friend.
"Meaning we should head over there right away," Buzz determined.
"Right, but maybe we should let Lea and Weiss know first," Ventus suggested.
"Way ahead of you," Sora stated, already tapping at his Gummiwatch for the sake of making the necessary call. "Let's just hope the Heartless don't try to escape from the store after they leave the entrance."
"Even if they do, they should end up scattering or reverting to their normal states once we take down the big boss," Ventus pointed out.
"They we best hurry over there ourselves," Buzz decided, turning towards the exit so he could lead the group to Kid Korral, and the others were all right behind him, Sora explaining the situation to their other friends over his watch as he went.
It was not long after meeting up with each other that the two search teams had arrived at Kid Korral. Really, the most time consuming thing they had to do was wait for Lea and Weiss to show up, and that was only because they had to make sure the first floor was completely Heartless free and get up to where they were on the third floor. With everyone now together again, the team proceeded into Kid Korral, eyes carefully searching the place for any signs of enemies or possible hiding places for the big boss. It did not take long to find the former, as a number of enemy Gigas materialized before them just after they had gotten in the door of Kid Korral.
Ventus and Lea immediately led the charge in terms of fighting the enemy mechs the old fashioned way, while Sora rushed over to an open Gigas so he could fight them on their playing field. Ruby and Yang would have joined Sora in piloting some Gigas again, but when a couple opened up for use, they ended up being too slow to claim them. Instead, Sora was joined by Weiss and Blake in battling with Gigas this time around, and while they would say otherwise, it was clear to everyone the black and white duo of Team RWBY had in fact rushed into the Gigas they chose because they wanted to try it out for themselves at the first possible chance. Ruby and Yang totally intended to tease their partners for this later, but right now, the latter felt it was better to keep an eye on the other blonde in their group.
After what happened in Action Figures, Yang had a sneaking suspicion that there was something going on with Ventus. Something that he had not mentioned to her or Buzz, and she was a little worried it might cause him to flip out again like he had before. Ventus seemed alright on the surface, sure, but behind that, Yang could see something in his eyes that spoke about a great deal of concern and worry. She broached the idea of telling the others with him while they were heading to Babies & Toddlers with Buzz, but Ven insisted that it could wait until after their work here was done. Yang knew he had a point in saying they should leave other topics for when they were not busy with something so important, but this still felt like something they should have told their friends about as soon as possible. Considering what the Keybearers had told her and the others about Vanitas, Yang felt very justified in thinking it was not a topic that should be put on hold, but Ventus had already made his decision and she did not think it was her place to argue with him, let alone to do so when they were in the middle of tracking down such an important target. So, with great reluctance, she took to just keeping a close eye on Ventus in case he freaked out again like he had before, which she would admit, was a lot easier for her to do by not driving a Gigas.
Speaking of, Blake and Weiss proved to be pretty decent at driving the mech toys. Sure, they were not big gamers like their partners, but the black and white duo were certainly no slouches. It certainly helped that they both studied what they could on the workings of the Atlesian Paladin after that first fight with one, but no one could ignore how often they took their time lining up their shots when using the Gigas' guns. Still, their attacks were much more precise and not as haphazard or reckless as Ruby and Yang's were when they drove a Gigas, so either way, the fight was still finished pretty quickly.
With the room cleared of enemy Gigas and Heartless, the team was free to search Kid Korral with little interference, but no matter where they looked, or how hard they searched, they could not seem to find any clues to indicate where the big boss could be hiding. At least, no until Ruby took notice of a particular stack of blocks standing on top of the ball pit. "Hey guys," she called out just after noticing it. "Check out the funny-looking cactus man!"
Hearing Ruby point out the block sculpture he had built the last time he was here in order to reach the Dark Corridor Xehanort ran into, Sora immediately turned towards the vent above them before sharing a look with Woody and Buzz. "You don't think…?" he started to ask.
"I mean, it makes a certain amount of sense," Woody shrugged.
"But could it really be that easy?" Buzz questioned.
"Only one way to find out," Sora determined, and his toy friends both agreed.
The others did not miss this exchange, but even hearing it from the beginning did little to help them understand what the three were talking about. "Is something wrong?" Blake asked. "You guys look like you just realized something that you think should've been obvious from the start."
"It certainly feels that way," Sora admitted. "That tower of blocks leads right to where we found the Dark Corridor leading into another realm the last time I was here."
"Assuming the corridor and that realm are both still there, it'd be the perfect hiding place for the Heartless' commander," Buzz explained for everyone.
"So we should go up and check it out, right? But how are we even supposed to get up there?" Yang asked, until the three Keybearers shot her knowing smiles. "Oh no. Not again."
"Yep. Time for another round of…Wall running!" Sora happily cheered, much to Yang and Weiss's dismay.
"Weren't the first few times enough," Weiss demanded, because she definitely did not whine. Schnees were not whiners. Anyone who said she did otherwise was lying.
"Hey, you know what they say, Ice Princess. Practice makes perfect," Lea pointed out as he leapt up to the tower of blocks with Sora, Ruby, and Blake.
Weiss did grumble a little about the redhead's remark, but immediately ceased when Ventus patted her shoulder and said, "Hey, don't worry about it. At least this time, no one's going to scold you for using your glyphs to get up there if you can't do it."
As comforting as that was, Weiss also took it as a challenge to try and wall run without using her glyphs, and much to everyone's surprise, she actually made it up on the first try. Yang was not about to embarrass herself by falling flat on her back and killing herself, so she just resorted to using her gauntlets to get up to the vent. Sure, this meant she ended up being the one to help Woody and Buzz get up there too, but that was alright by her, and once everyone was gathered inside the vent, they all came face-to-face with the Dark Corridor Sora had mentioned.
"Yep. Right where Xehanort left it," Sora scowled angrily, thought whether it was over the presence of the Dark Corridor or the mentioning of his old foe's younger self, nobody could tell you. If Lea and Ventus had to guess though, they would probably say the latter, seeing as Young Xehanort was a complete and total jerk, to put it mildly. The others had a different concern about the portal though.
"Are we sure this thing is safe?" Blake questioned the Keybearers.
"Not really," Lea confessed, drawing worried looks from the girls. "Take it from someone who knows, using the darkness to travel anywhere is dangerous in general, but given how this thing seems to have stayed right where it was for almost half if not an entire year since it first formed, there's no telling what kind of risks we might face going through."
Nothing Lea said did anything to alleviate the concerns of the group at large, but thankfully they had Sora to deal with that. "Don't worry. Woody, Buzz, Donald, Goofy, and I all went through this same portal before the last time I was here, and we came out just fine. A little battered and tired from the fight with the Heartless boss and annoyed by our encounter with Young Xehanort, but fine all the same."
"Besides, the big bad we're looking for is in there. I can feel it, and I doubt I'm the only one either," Ventus pointed out. "If we don't go in, we won't be able to put a stop to the Heartless' plans for this world."
"Hey, none of you fellas have to go in," Woody pointed out. "This is our home, so if anyone has to do this, it should be me and Buzz."
"But Woody, you have no idea if you would even stand a chance against that thing. For all you know, it could be too powerful for you to handle on your own," Blake pointed out.
"Even with all of your magic enhancements, your still just toys at the end of the day," Weiss added on. She did not mean it to be insulting; just as a word of caution. Everyone knew she only said it because she did not want her new friends to go into a fight they may not survive.
"Hey, we may be toys, but we're more than that too, and we've got the biggest stake in stopping that thing," Woody reminded Weiss. "If you really need more proof, you just need to look under mine or Buzz's boot."
"That's an…interesting place to get proof from," Blake hedged as best she could, voicing most of the others' confusion as nicely as possible.
Knowing an explanation was needed, Buzz simply lifted his leg up so that everyone could see exactly what was under his boot: the name of his and Woody's kid written in permanent ink. "The boy who wrote this on mine, Woody, and Jessie's boots means everything to us," Buzz happily explained to them.
"And he wrote it there because he cares about us as much as any kid ever loved a toy," Woody proudly added on. "We would do anything for Andy, regardless of any risks, and we're not gonna let anyone or anything stop us from doing so now."
Sora nodded happily upon hearing Woody's unwavering conviction spoken aloud, and then looked to his teammates. "I'm going with them," he announced. "I've been through that portal before, so the risk may be a little lower for me. Besides, the best way to stop a Heartless for good is with a Keyblade, so they would need at least one of us wielders with them anyway. The rest of you can stay here and to guard the exit if you're not feeling up for it."
Everyone shared a look with one another for a few seconds after Sora said that, but then again, some had to wonder if they even needed one. "Aw what the hell," Lea sighed tiredly, albeit with a grin. "It's not like this would be the first time I've gone through one of those things."
"Count me in," Ventus agreed, which left only the girls to answer.
Of course, one of them already had the answer loaded for her entire team. "We're in too," Ruby announced, startling the other three. Apparently she had expected this, because before any protests could be made, Ruby quickly explained, "I know that it's probably dangerous, but I also know we'll be okay when we go through. I can't explain how I know; it's just a feeling I'm getting." She then placed a hand over her heart and said, "I feeling right in here."
"So it's basically you trusting Sora's word on this?" Yang guessed.
"No. Well, maybe a little, but it's more than that. Like I just know we're gonna be okay regardless of whatever happens to us," Ruby insisted. "I know. This doesn't make any sense."
"Actually, it makes perfect sense," Weiss assured her, and judging from their smiles, Yang and Blake understood too.
Sora grinned happily at seeing everyone was on board, and then said, "Well then, may our hearts be our guiding key."
Team RWBY shot him some curious looks for his latest statement, but ultimately shrugged it off as a Keyblade wielder thing before they all ventured forth into the Dark Corridor. Upon coming out the other side, they were surprised to find themselves standing in the middle of what looked like a giant play set floating high up in a clear, partly cloudy sky. Every building around them seemed to be little more than blocks or just a simple box that had been colored to look like an actual building, and the ground beneath their feet was colored with various different landscapes from streets to grassy plains. Sora recognized this place as where he and his friends had fought the King of Toys Heartless, and from what he could tell, Woody and Buzz also remembered both the location and the fight just as well. Circumstances aside, it did feel pretty good to be back here again, but the massive amount of Heartless definitely ruined the nostalgia.
All around them, the team could see multiple different Pole Cannons at various positions, Toy Troopers marching in formation like an army preparing to head out, and even a few Tireblades either rolling along the ground or flying through the air like they were patrolling for any sign of intruders. Naturally, the last of those three spotted the heroes first, but even though they already had weapons drawn and ready to fight, Team RWBY, Sora, Ventus, Lea, Woody, and Buzz were a little more focused on what was hovering above all of them at the moment. For there, up in the sky, was the very same Heartless boss that Sora and his friends had defeated when he first came to this world, only now it looked a lot bigger, and it appeared to have a few new additions to it as well.
The gang probably would have tried to study this upgraded King of Toys a little more closely, but the Heartless were already on the attack before they could get much more than that first glimpse of the thing. Thankfully, Ventus and Weiss were able to give them some proper breathing room to react with a combined blast of wind magic and fire Dust, and the team soon set to work blasting a path through the Heartless. Woody, Buzz, and Lea stuck to battling the Toy Troopers and Tireblades, while Weiss and Ventus did their best to eliminate the Pole Cannons as quickly as possible. The last thing they needed was those things taking potshots at any of them while they tried to get at their boss, and that was already difficult enough. Not only was the upgraded King of Toys constantly flying around to stay out of reach, but since it seemed determined to keep its weak spot shielded in any manner it could. Thankfully, Yang, Ruby, and Sora managed to get on top of the Heartless boss a couple of times to land some hits on its head, but considering how often it spun around to shake them off whenever they did land on it, they considered it lucky that they were able to hit it just once before falling off again. Buzz and Blake had tried taking some shots at it while it was upside down or in mid-spin, but the new King of Toys spun around far too fast for any of their hits to land without a massive amount of luck.
"Funny, I don't remember this thing being so tough or fast," Buzz commented as he ducked and rolled away from some of the missiles the new King of Toys started to unleash on them, sometimes even going so far as to line up enemies to take the hits in his place.
"You can say that again," Woody agreed while lassoing some Heartless with his pull-string.
Lea had just caught his chakrams on a return trip from cutting through some more Pole Cannons, when he noticed the Heartless boss glow a little. A second later, more Pole Cannons had materialized to replace the ones they had already destroyed along with a few additional ones to provide more firepower. It was not just the Pole Cannons, though; several more Toy Troopers appeared on the scene as well, and Lea would have been taken down by some of them had Yang not jumped in and blasted them into dust with her gauntlets. "So, I guess this king knows to call for more men before they end up being unable to put him back together again," Yang quipped to the redhead.
"Clearly, though I'm not sure if king is really an accurate title for this one," Lea agreed. "Maybe something more along the lines of Emperor of Toys would be more accurate."
"I don't care if we call this thing Gregory. It needs to go down before it has a chance to pull anymore surprises on us," Ventus reminded them as he used a Blizzard Raid to freeze several enemies in place. Perfect for when Ruby and Weiss came rushing in to take them out with several rushing slashes.
Sadly, it got a chance to pull some more surprises, and the next surprise came in the form of opening some bay doors on its sides to release some Gigas onto the battlefield, much to their dismay. "Oh come on!" Blake of all people groaned miserably upon seeing the mech toys. "Like we didn't have enough problems."
"Doesn't matter how big they are. These guys are still small fries," Sora reminded everyone. "We need to take out the King…Erm, Emperor of Toys if we want to stop them."
"Easy for you to say," Yang pointed out as she threw jab after jab at the Heartless slowly surrounding her and Lea, while the pyro just slashed at them with his Keyblade, be it as a Keyblade or as chakrams. "They don't seem like they're too fond of us taking out their boss, and I doubt that'll change after the fact."
"Actually it would. Heartless always scatter or become a lot easier to deal with after taking out a commander, assuming they have one," Ruby revealed, making the others wonder how she knew that. "Sora showed me some of the notes and journal entries he's kept on the Heartless and his past journeys," she shrugged.
As nice as it was to hear how much Sora trusted Ruby with such information, Buzz felt he needed to point out another flaw in their plan. "Even if that were true, there's still the matter of actually reaching the thing's weak point, and staying within range of it long enough to do some real damage," he pointed out as he fired some more laser blasts at various Heartless.
"Too bad we can't just fly up to the thing, huh?" Woody remarked, throwing Buzz a knowing look as he did.
Buzz shot his friend a look in return that said this was hardly the time, but Sora on the other hand brightened up with excitement after hearing what Woody said. "Maybe we can," he announced, confusing the others a little. "Woody, Buzz, do what you can to keep the Heartless busy! I need a minute to focus."
"Sure thing, Sora," Woody agreed, and like that, the two best friends were taking the fight directly to whatever Heartless they could.
The two actual toys may not have questioned Sora, but the rest of his friends certainly did. "Uh Sora? What are you thinking?" Lea started off.
"More accurately, have you lost your mind? We can't fly," Weiss stated as bluntly as possible.
"Wanna bet?" Sora grinned eagerly.
Before he could continue, or Weiss could say anything in retort, Ventus immediately cut in with a warning. "No she doesn't!" Ven loudly insisted. "Seriously, Weiss, you do not want to make a bet on that. Seriously, it's like one of the first rules in our group to never make a bet with Sora unless you want to lose it."
The girls stared at Ventus like he was being crazy, but when Lea firmly nodded to show his agreement they suddenly felt more inclined to agree. Sora on the other hand just shot both of them flat looks and asked, "Are you done being dramatic?"
"One, I'm not being dramatic. You know it's true," Ventus argued. "And two, do you have any room to talk when it comes to being dramatic?"
Sora did not make any attempts to protest or deny the accusation. He just grinned widely and returned to his previous explanation. "As I was saying, we most definitely can fly."
"Hate to break it to you, Sora, but I don't think Glide will be of much help right now, even if all of us could do it," Lea said, thinking his friend had forgotten the exact workings of that ability. "And last I checked, while they can get close in various ways, none of the girls are actually able to fly."
"Who said anything about using Glide or our various landing strategies?" Sora asked as he placed a hand over his heart. "I told you guys I had been working on turning some of my old summon charms into Heartbinders, remember? Well, as it turns out, I managed to finish doing so with just the one we need here the night before we left Beacon."
Now they were all curious and a little excited. "So who are you gonna summon this time?" Ventus asked.
"See for yourself. After all, I'm pretty sure Aqua mentioned you guys and Roxas were at least a little familiar with one, if not both of these two," Sora informed him, right when the light of his spell began circling around him. "Together, as one!"
Right after Sora's chant, a small ball of light seemed to shoot out from his chest and rapidly circled the area, while the sound of pan flute playing echoed around them. Shortly after, something suddenly zoomed down from behind Sora, scooping him up into the air and flipping him around before they came back down to the ground again, all the while, letting out a crow of excitement. When they landed, the ball of light fully formed into a small, glowing lady with blonde hair tied in a bun, dressed in green, and with wings happily fluttering on her back. These were Sora's old friends, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, and Ventus and Lea were indeed both at least a little familiar with one or both of them.
"Hey Sora! Long time no see," Peter happily greeted, while Tinker Bell let out some joyous jingles as well.
"Good to see you too, Peter, Tink," Sora nodded in reply, giggling a bit when Tink gave him a playful tap on the nose. "Wish it was just to say hello."
"Hey no worries buddy. You know we're both more than happy to help with anything," Peter assured him. He then took notice of who else was in the group, and stopped short upon seeing the blonde boy among them. "No way! Ven! It has definitely been a long time since we last saw you! And it looks like you haven't changed a bit. Literally."
"I was just thinking the same thing about you, Peter," Ventus smiled in return, while the fairy of the two gave him a little nudge on his cheek to remind him she was still there. "Hey, I didn't forget about you, Tinker Bell. It's good to see you both again after so long."
"Oh geez. No that crazy pixie again," Lea muttered under his breath. Too bad for him, Tinker Bell heard him perfectly, and had quickly swooped over to kick him in the face. "Ow! Hey, you little…!"
"Okay, break it up you two," Sora cut in before his friends could start fighting with each other instead of the actual bad guys. "We've got a Heartless situation to deal with."
"What else new?" Peter shrugged, having gotten used to dealing with Heartless ever since he first met Sora.
"You mean aside from our new pals?" Sora asked, indicating the girls when he did. "Team RWBY, meet the heroes of Neverland: Peter Pan and Tinker Bell. Peter, Tink, this is Yang, Blake, Weiss, and…"
"EEEEEEE! Oh my gosh! A real fairy!" Ruby suddenly squealed before dashing over to Tinker Bell before anyone could blink. "Oh wow, you're so cute and pretty! If I wasn't afraid of accidentally squishing you or something, I'd hug you as tight as I could!"
Tinker Bell actually blushed a little at Ruby's praises, and waved for the girl to keep going as she let out a few jingles in reply. "Yeah, that's Ruby," Sora finished, still smiling in spite of how it almost sounded like he was bothered by the interruption.
"Nice to meet you guys," Yang waved to Peter and Tinker Bell. Or at least she tried to, but it seemed like her sister and the pixie were a little too caught up in chatting with each other right now. "But I'm still not seeing how you're gonna help us beat the Emperor of Toys."
"You mean aside from the fact that at least one of them seems like he actually can fly?" Weiss remarked, not failing to notice how Peter was still floating in the air.
"Of course, but I'm not the only one who can fly. Anybody can do it," Peter insisted. He gave a quick whistle to Tink, breaking the fairy out of her conversation with Ruby to fly over. "Tink, if you wouldn't mind?"
Tinker Bell snapped out a salute and proceeded to sprinkle some pixie dust over the three Keybearers while Sora explained what was happening. "You just need to think happy thoughts, and then all it takes is faith, trust, and pixie dust."
It seemed like all the girls besides Ruby were going to dispute his claim, but they all stopped short when Sora suddenly lifted up into the air and then rocketed towards the Emperor of Toys with Keyblade in hand. Not only that, but with every spell he cast and swing of his Keyblade, Sora continued to fly around like a small airship racing across the sky. Before long, Lea had joined in as well, though his flight did seem a little less certain than Sora's. Not surprising, seeing as Lea had not really done this very much like the rest of his friends, but he did still manage well enough to land some easy hits on the Emperor of Toys.
Ventus was about to join in when he remembered that the girls were going to need a little pixie dust too, and looked to Tinker Bell and said, "Hey Tink, would you mind giving the girls a taste too?"
Tinker Bell nodded in reply, and soon went to work sprinkling Team RWBY with pixie dust. She ended up blown away after accidentally getting some in Weiss and Blake's noses, but ultimately waved them off when the girls tried to apologize. Unsurprisingly, Ruby was the first of her team to get in the air, but it still took her a few minutes to adjust to fighting while airborne. She first learned how much adjusting she would need to do after flying around to get into a position where she had a clear shot at the Emperor of Toys, only to be sent flying backwards by her scythe's recoil.
"Okay, that might need some work," Ruby noted to herself as she aimed her scythe behind her and firing again so she could get back to the fight just as quickly.
Yang was the next to take off, and did have the same problem as Ruby at first, but she managed to figure out how to best adjust to the effects her weapons would have on her newfound flight paths. Even if it did take a bit of time, Blake did manage to get into the air and join the sisters and Keybearers as well, but for some reason, Weiss remained firmly on the ground no matter what she tried. Thinking back to what Sora said before, she had to admit it did make a little sense. There were very few things in her life that had truly made her happy, but Weiss was never one to let something keep her down, so she set to work with helping Woody and Buzz.
With Peter Pan and Tinker Bell's help the team was able to gain some more ground against the Emperor of Toys. Not only that, but being able to fly also helped them to cut down the Heartless' numbers a lot faster too. Before long, the Emperor of Toys was just about on its last legs, and all it would take was one, perfect strike to end things. Things took a bit of turn again at that point though, namely from the moment when Ventus moved into position to make the final strike. Apparently, it was right at that same second when the Emperor of Toys found a second wind, because it let loose another volley of missiles with several electromagnetic blasts to go with it, and they were all flying right towards Ventus. With no time to dodge or really do anything else, Ventus simply crossed his arms in front of him, Keyblade at the forefront, and then cried out in pain when the attack hit.
Tinker Bell had been fluttering about to heal each combatant as best she could, while keeping the pixie dust supply up as best she could for each of them, but when she heard Ventus's cry of pain, she immediately spun around just in time to see her friend drop from the sky and hit the ground hard. From the look of things, she was not the only one who noticed, because Yang, Sora, and all the others who were fighting the Emperor of Toys were soon doing their best to try and reach Ventus or heal him in whatever way they could, but none of them were having any luck in doing so. The Heartless were making sure that their friend stayed isolated from any assistance the team could provide, and as a result, they were all forced to either fight the Heartless boss or the Heartless directly around them. Even Woody and Buzz could not seem to get through to Ven, but Tinker Bell soon noticed at least one person who seemed free enough to reach him, and soon darted over to get her attention.
Weiss had just run her blade through another three Toy Troopers when Tinker Bell's jingling suddenly rang in her ears, and she turned to see what had gotten the fairy so excited. Unfortunately, Weiss could not make heads or tails of what Tink was saying; she was talking so fast and waving her arms about like a madwoman. "Tinker Bell! Please, slow down!" Weiss insisted. "I can't speak your language as it is! How am I supposed to know what you're saying when you're not even making any motions that I can…" Weiss stopped short when Tink just resorted to insistently pointing off in a random direction, and she turned right at the very moment when the Emperor of Toys was preparing to charge the downed Keybearer. "VEN!"
Acting purely on instinct and adrenaline, Weiss shot off like a rocket, hoping to reach Ventus before the Heartless could. In her haste, she never realized that not only had she stopped running, but instead had lifted up off the ground and started flying over to him, but also a certain glyph had started to take shape behind her. When she finally came to a stop between Ventus and the Emperor of Toys, Weiss raised her blade to block the attack, despite knowing it would not do much, but she was determined to keep Ven from getting hit while he was down. So she closed her eyes and braced for the moment when the Emperor of Toys struck, only to hear a loud clang when she should have been racked with intense pain.
After a few seconds, Weiss slowly cracked one eye open, and then opened both her eyes as wide as she could at the startling sight before her. There, blocking the Emperor of Toys was a massive, crystal white longsword held firmly in the grasp of an equally large, armored hand. Tracing her gaze up the arm of said hand, Weiss's eyes widened a little more when she saw that the arm was extending out from a summoning glyph. HER summoning glyph! It was both incredible and unbelievable to Weiss, but she soon came to believe it a little more when the arm spun the sword around and then sliced the Emperor of Toys clean in half with one swing, destroying the Heartless Boss entirely and ending the battle in their favor.
With their master destroyed, the Heartless soon either fled the scene or began to be taken down in one hit each, allowing the others to finally get a chance to rush to Ven's aid. They all had to pause and take in the sight of Weiss's partial summon but otherwise paid it little mind. Their friend needed help right now, and Yang was quick to administer said help via a bottle of Elixir that she had on hand. Ventus ended up not being the only one who needed it though, as Weiss soon collapsed to her knees as well, right when the large arm and sword disappeared, and she probably would have face-planted into the ground had Lea not caught her at the last second.
"So, I'm guessing that was the big bad Arma Gigas, huh?" Lea asked of the heiress.
"Part of it, yes," Weiss panted tiredly, though still let out a small smile of pride over her recent summoning success. "Guess doing it my way really does yield a better result."
"Told ya so," Lea lightly teased, but his smile was far softer than his usual teasing one and stayed that way as he offered her an Elixir. "Way to pull it off at the last second, Weiss."
Weiss just smirked back in return after swallowing the contents in the potion vial, and then moved to help Yang steady Ventus on his feet. Tinker Bell helped heal the blonde up a little more by the using the last bit of magic she had before she and Peter both disappeared, both promising to come again if they ever needed the two, but before anyone could relax, the ground suddenly began to tremble beneath them. "Uh I think it's time we left," Ruby informed everyone.
"Couldn't agree more," Sora nodded, and he turned to lead them back to the Dark Corridor. Half way there though, he realized they had a very serious problem. "Uh, where did the corridor go?"
"I thought you knew where it was," Blake protested.
"I did! It should be right there, but it's gone!" Sora insisted.
"Are you saying we're trapped here while the whole place is coming down?!" Yang cried out in a panic.
As the others all proceeded to panic and scramble for a solution to their newest problem, Blake peaked over the side of the flying play set and realized something the others seemed to have missed. "Hey guys?" she called out, interrupting the panic screaming. "Did anyone happen to notice exactly where this thing is?"
Curious as to what Blake could be implying, everyone rushed over to see what she had seen, and gasped when they saw that the flying play set was actually somewhere high up in the clouds above the streets of Toy Box proper. Now feeling a new sense of urgency, the others started trying to think of ideas that could ensure they would not drop to their deaths, but by the time someone came up with an idea, the ground beneath their feet finally vanished. With nothing to keep them in the air, the group began dropping faster than a heavy rock, and most of them instantly wished that Peter and Tinker Bell were still here.
"OH MY GOD! THIS IS THE PART WHERE WE ALL DIE!" Yang screamed, scared for both her life and those of her friends.
"Not on our watch!" Sora shouted. He hurried and angled himself so that he could catch up with grab Ruby in his arms, and once he had his girlfriend secured in his grip, he nodded to Ventus and Lea. Ventus immediately gravitated over to Weiss and mimicked Sora's actions, while Lea was left to grab the remaining half of Team RWBY, both knowing what Sora had in mind. Sadly, one of them did have a problem with the plan.
"Uh, Sora, in case you guys have forgotten, I can't use Glide!" Lea shouted over the rushing wind.
"Yes you can!" Ventus shouted. "Just imagine what you felt when you were flying just a second ago, focus your magic like you would when wall running, and then it'll all click into place!"
"Are you sure?!" Lea questioned, while Yang and Blake both shot similar looks of questioning.
Feeling that they did not have much to lose, Lea closed his eyes and proceeded to focus like Ventus had instructed, until Weiss suddenly remembered there were two more people in their group who would need a lift. "What about Woody and Buzz?!"
"Don't worry! I think they've got it handled!" Yang shouted back, noticing how Buzz had already caught Woody in his arms.
"They'd better, otherwise they're going to hit the ground and smash into pieces!" Ruby pointed out.
"Not today!" Buzz declared while snapping his helmet closed. He then tapped the big red button on his chest and opened his wings, angling both himself and Woody so that they would catch at least a little bit of air.
Despite their friends sureness, Team RWBY and Woody all covered their eyes, unable to look as the ground drew closer, when suddenly, they felt a strong gust of wind blow them all upwards, right before the air began to steadily flow past them as they seemed to level out. Peeking between their fingers, Woody let out a sigh of relief and a wide smile, while the girls just marveled at what was happening now. A feeling that Lea could not help but share with them.
"No way. I'm doing it. I'm actually doing it! I'm using Glide!" Lea cheered. "HA-HA-HA! YEAH BABY!"
"Oh my gosh! Sora, Ven, Lea, Buzz!" Ruby cheered along with them before spreading her arms out like wings. "You're flying!"
"No they're not, Ruby," Woody grinned knowingly.
"This isn't flying. This is falling with style," Buzz corrected with a matching grin.
No one seemed to care what their friends called it. They were all just enjoying the feeling of soaring through the air and not falling to their deaths. It was only made all the better with Weiss, Woody, Blake, and Yang all copying Ruby in spreading their arms out to better take in the feeling, though the last two had to settled for extending one arm each since they were sharing a flier, and they all had to grin as Sora, Woody, and Buzz all shouted, "To infinity and beyond!"
The others were tempted to belt that out too, until they all noticed something off about their trajectory. "Uh guys?" Ruby called out. "The toy store's the other way."
"We know," Sora told her.
"But we're not aiming for the store," Buzz revealed on his behalf.
They were all very confused now, at least until they glanced ahead to see where they were heading, and they all smiled at the location they were about to reach: Andy's house. "Guess that would explain why the Heartless were so bad around here," Ventus noted aloud.
Roxas, Team JNPR, and the rest of Andy's toys had actually just finished up another fight with the Heartless when the others returned to Andy's room. At first they had been very confused as to why the monsters suddenly became easier to beat, or just straight up ran away, but when Sora, Lea, Ventus, Woody, Buzz, and Team RWBY flew in through the window, they quickly put the pieces together. Hearing Buzz say "Mission Accomplished" only served as the final confirmation that the job was done, much to everyone's relief. Of course Sora and his friends were more impressed with the fact that Andy's room seemed to still be in one piece despite leaving Nora here to help guard it, and could not help but say so.
Nora's first response was, "Hey, I can pull my punches when I need to, and there is no way I was gonna mess up some kid's bedroom, even if it would have meant bashing the Heartless would've taken longer."
Afterwards, everyone immediately turned to Ren, who simply said, "Yes, she did in fact behave herself. After I promised to make her several stacks of pancakes for dinner later."
Based on Nora's grumbling, that had to be what actually happened, and even Jaune and Pyrrha could not deny this truth. The only reason they were reluctant to admit it was because they did not want to upset Nora too much, but either way, the rest of the team was glad to see everything worked out well in the end. So, with little else to do here, Teams SLVR, RWBY, and JNPR said their goodbyes and prepared to head home, only to freeze when they heard footsteps rapidly approaching the room. A quick glance at the clock on the wall, and Andy's toys did not need to try too hard in piecing together what that meant.
"Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln! They're home!" Jessie gasped.
"Andy's coming everybody! Back to your places! Hurry!" Woody shouted, and the toys all scrambled to get into position.
Buzz was just about to head up onto the bed with Woody when they remembered one last detail, and he quickly hurried over to Sora and his friends. "You get under the bed. Quick!"
"Seriously?" Jaune questioned. "There's no way that'll ever work."
"Do you know have any idea how often kids end up not being able to find their toys because they forgot they were under the bed?" Woody questioned in return, and no one could really find an answer to that.
Taking Woody and Buzz's advice, the three Beacon teams quickly dashed under Andy's bed just in time to see the boy himself come bursting into the room just seconds after his toys had all either gone limp or frozen in specific positions. From what they could see, Andy seemed like a pretty average young boy at first, even if he did immediately throw a red cowboy hat on his head right after getting in the room, but from the way he immediately ran over to his bed to say hello to Woody and Buzz, they could see that the toys were not exaggerating when they said Andy loved them as much as any kid ever loved a toy. The proof only grew stronger when they saw Andy gather up his other toys and start playing a variety of games like he had just gotten the toys that very same day, and brought smiles to all their faces.
The smiles only persisted as they continued to watch Andy go about his day, playing with all of his toys, whether it was having Woody stop the diabolical One-Eyed Bart and his wife One-Eyed Betty, showcasing Jessie and Bullseye riding to save orphans on a runaway train, getting Buzz to fly to the rescue and stop Evil Doctor Porkchop, or even having all four team up to combat the "bad guys" when Bart brought in his force-field dog, prompting Woody to bring his dinosaur that eats force-field dogs, it seemed Andy had no limits to his playful imagination. Even when his little sister Molly came toddling in while his mother was filming him playing, Andy did not stop his game. Heck, he went so far as to actually include Molly and their dog Buster in the game, a sight that reminded Yang and Ruby of when they were Andy's age, and made Weiss wish she had that kind of relationship with her own siblings.
Since they did not want to take any risks of Andy or his family noticing their departure, they ended up hiding under Andy's bed until the boy finally went to sleep that night, with Woody and Buzz snuggled up beside him, one might add. It was truly a sweet sight to behold, and none of them wanted to disturb the boy by giving one last goodbye to all of Andy's toys. Thankfully, Woody and Buzz must have noticed them watching, because they sent Sora and his pals a quiet wink to showcase they knew, and with that, the team teleported back up to the ship, confident that if the Heartless ever did come back, they would have to tangle with one incredible team of heroic toys.
As fun as being turned into toys was, everyone agreed that they were glad to be back to their regular selves again when they got back on the ship. Still, they all excitedly regaled each other with their various toy stories as they made their way up to the cockpit, and some of them even voiced wishes to come back and visit someday soon. Ruby had to agree with the sentiment as well, but right when she was about to say so to Yang, she noticed that her sister seemed a little anxious about something. Thinking she should deal with this sooner rather than later, Ruby told the others to go on ahead without them, and heard no protest from anyone in reply. She did note how Ventus told his fellow Keybearers that he had to talk with them about something, but figured she would find out more about that later. Her sister was a little more important.
"Yang, are you okay?" Ruby asked.
Yang did not say anything. She just looked at Ruby as she contemplated what Ventus and Buzz had told her back at Galaxy Toys. She was still really nervous about telling Ruby what she had to say, but thinking about what her friends had said, and the very touching scenes they had witnessed after Andy came home, she felt like she could do this. At the very least, she believed that if she did not do it now, she probably would not ever have the courage to again anytime soon. So, she took a deep breath, looked her sister directly in the eye, and said, "Ruby, there's something we need to talk about."
Hearing Yang say that made Ruby a little nervous. The last time she had seen Yang acting like this was when her sister told her that their mother was not coming home again, but Ruby also knew that it meant whatever it was Yang would not be telling her if it was not important. So she nodded and waved for Yang to tell her, showing she was willing to listen, something Yang appreciated very much judging by her smile, and with that, Ruby listened as Yang finally told her the truth about the exact details of their familial bonds.
AN: And there you have it. I nice little stop with some exposition from Ienzo on why things seemed so bad on Corona at the beginning, mixed in with a variety of other big issues and easter eggs. Most of them for the Toy Story franchise. I really liked writing this chapter, since Toy Story is one of my favorite movie series. [scowls a little bit] Except for Toy Story 4. We don't talk about Toy Story 4.
Sora: [hurriedly panicked] Okay, we get it! No need to go off on another rant like you did in that episode of Studio News on the YouTube channel.
AN: Sorry. Ahem, anyways, the main things I enjoyed was having Woody and Buzz share some of the big lessons they've learned over the years, be it in the movies or when they showed up in KH3 with the gang, but it was also pretty fun getting to provide my own little explanation as to what happened to the world of Toy Box after Sora, Donald, and Goofy had left. I mean, I kinda had to make Buzz still be able to use his laser if he was going to fight Heartless, at least, I think I did, so might as well add that little tidbit into the mix.
Also, in case anyone was wondering, when it comes to the toy forms of Teams RWBY and JNPR, I tried my best to base them off of what I had seen from some of the RWBY action figures, while also mixing in some basic logic about toy design. Or at least, the basic logic that just about everyone knows. Here's hoping I succeeded on that front.
Ventus: Hey, let's not forget there were a few things in this chapter that weren't totally Toy Story related.
AN: Believe me, I had no intention to. Before anyone says anything about Team RWBY driving the Gigas like Sora did in KH3, well, like Goofy and Donald said in the game, if he can do it, who's to say no one else could too? Besides, do you really think Ruby's going to see she can drive a mech suit like that and not jump at the chance?
And yes, I did give Team RWBY their own versions of Yozora for this chapter, and had the characters sport what's basically alternate versions of their Mistral attire. If that's not foreshadowing for the girls' future in some small way or another, I don't know what would be.
Ventus: Not what I was referring to.
AN: I know, I just wanted to get that out of the way ASAP. On the subject of what Ven really meant, let's start with what went down with the blonde Keybearer in question and his sudden headaches and surprises from Vanitas. I'd rather not go too far into details just yet, but let's just say that this is the start of Ven getting his own little private army. I mean, Sora has the Dream Eaters, Roxas has the Samurais, and yes, I will go ahead and say that eventually, Lea will get back the Assassins. It's just that it'll be a bit more of a journey with Ven than it is with the others, and Vanitas will in fact have a part to play in that. After all, he is Ven's darkness. Or at least, he was originally.
On another note, let's talk about the developments with Lea and Weiss. I know it's already been implied in an earlier chapter, but this is the official beginning of those two forming something of a more normal friendship. Plus, I just really wanted to showcase a small hint of my feelings towards Weiss's dad and how he treats his kids. I don't care what happened to him in the aftermath of RWBY Volume 8. The dude was NOT a good man, and we shouldn't pretend like he'll be missed. Plus, I honestly believe Lea's very justified reaction to learning the story behind Weiss's scar is exactly how he would react if he found out something like that happened to anyone he was at least accquaintances with.
That said, how many of you were expecting Weiss's sudden progress with her Summoning Glyphs to make an early appearance? It's only fitting that she would be able to do it as part of an effort to save Ven's life, in my opinion, and of course, part of it does come from Lea giving her the necessary advice to not try and do everything like her sister does. I mean, I do respect and love how Weiss adores and looks up to her sister so much, regardless of how things are between them at any point of the story, but everyone who's ever had a sibling, be it older or younger, does need to realize that they need to be their own person and not do everything like said sibling sooner or later. Why not get Weiss to have that realization sooner?
I suppose the last thing to mention would be the events that took place when Woody, Sora, Ruby, and Blake were searching the third floor. Believe me, I'm well aware how often people have complained about how little interaction there was between Ruby and Blake for most of the series, but in the most recent volume of RWBY, Blake did imply that there was more interaction between them than we saw, so I'd like think this is my way of at least helping that along a little bit. At least in this story. So, we get an early introduction, or at least referral to Menagerie, and Blake talks a little bit about her childhood with Ruby and Sora, and learns a few fun facts about Ruby. I'm not entirely sure if Ruby ever did hold those desires that she mentioned above, but given her character, do you really think she wouldn't, be it at this point or any point during the series?
Blake: Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me that much, at least not if I'm speaking from where I'm at in canon.
AN: Speaking of RWBY canon, there's something I've gotta get off my chest about what folks had been saying at some points of the latest volume. While I do agree that Yang had been pretty lousy for most of the volume, at least in regards to Ruby.
Yang: Hey! That is...actually fair. I deserve a good deal of that hate.
AN: As long as you can admit it. Anyways, while I do agree with that, in the case of the Schnee siblings, namely Weiss and Whitley, not so much! Look, I get that people were probably expecting Weiss to start treating Whitley a little better after her conversation with her mom in Volume 7, but I feel like you're all forgetting something very important. Namely the fact that up until now, everyone, be it the characters in the show or the audience, many of whom have painted Whitley in very poor light before Volume 7 and/or 8, had the impression that Whitley was indeed his father's child and was unlikely to ever change. As an older sibling myself, I'm well aware that when you and your siblings start viewing one another in a certain manner, it's very hard to see past that perception or believe that they could easily change who you believe them to be. In other words, up until the later stages of Volume 8, Weiss had a hard time believing that Whitley would want to be a genuine good person as anything other than a show. Both Winter and Weiss believed that Whitley was their father's child through and through, and the kid never did anything to show otherwise. As Weiss said back in Volume 4, Whitley never showed any indication of so much as liking his older sisters, and from what we could all see, he did in fact want to steal away the position of heir to the SDC from Weiss.
To further this point, when Ruby's group went to the Schnee manner for shelter so they could heal Nora, while Weiss did aim a weapon at Whitley, you have to keep in mind they were very stressed and worried about their friend, and the boy wasn't exactly showcasing any signs of welcoming them in willingly, or even doing so because it was the humane thing to do, or because one of the people was family, like a decent person would. And then moving on to when Whitley asked what they wanted him to do to help them out. To him, his words probably sounded like: "I'm here to help you out if you need me, big sister." But to Weiss, who had long grown accustomed to believing her brother to be their father's child, all she heard was what was on the surface, which basically translated to: "Ugh, what a pain. I might as well help out if it means I'll get rid of them sooner." So is it really that much of a surprise that Weiss told him to go some place where he would be out of their hair?
Weiss: Are you done?
AN: Yeah, I'm good now. So with that said, let's get on with some overdue review answers, shall we?
First off, "Dragon Rider 66", don't worry, I didn't get the "worlds tour arc" name from your review, so you can relax on that front. As for the Remnant locals learning some more advanced magic, well, to use your example...do you really want to think about what would happen if Nora learned lightning magic. That's honestly a scary thought. I will say that Oscar will have some different developments in this series, even before Ozpin shows up in his head. Honestly though, I hadn't really thought about having anyone from RWBY being recognized by Andy's toys in anyway until you mentioned something, so thanks for that idea.
Rolling on over to "SuperSayainFever", I've actually learned all about Joker and the Phantom Thieves since the last time I updated this, and I can now say with absolute certainty that I do agree having those guys around would be a good influence on Neo. How's that for people's ideas for future fanfics? That said, the gang will definitely be checking out the Caribbean in the near future, for a number of reasons, so you'll find out the answers on what happens there pretty soon.
"SeereSakura", I can't say exactly when the team will visit Enchanted Dominion, but I do plan on having it be one of the later stops, as a lot of things will happen on that visit regarding a variety of developments. That's all I can really say at this time without giving away anything huge.
"CT7567Rules", I can confirm that classic Genie will be showing up. Namely when the team visits Agrabah. Nuff said true believer.
"Monkey D. Conan" old buddy, yes, Ven and Weiss are in fact the only other couple that are not official just yet, and there will be something special for them to make it so, as you'll soon see. As for the bad feeling our boys were getting, yeah, that's just stuff regarding the bad guys we already know. At least, that's the intention right now. But that's not to say there won't be some other things that'll develop in this arc. If you need any more proof, just look what happened with Ven here today.
"Spiderfan626" my friend, I'm sorry to say that right now, I don't really have any plans for the team to visit The Hundred Acre Wood, but you are right. Anyone who goes in there probably would get bounced by Tigger. It's kind of a prerequisite if you ask me for anyone who visits that world.
"ranjira1988", I'm sorry to say that I was unaware of this little detail of irony when I wrote that bit of the chapter. I just honestly wrote because I thought it would be funny for Cardin to be scared silly by Lea, Sora, and the others. And it was. Hehehehehehe. Now that you've mentioned it though, I find it even better! So thanks for that.
"DevilsZack00", glad to hear you've been enjoying the story thus far, and I hope you continue to do so. As for your question regarding Yozora, I don't really have any plans for him right now, mainly because I'm entirely sure if there even is a way for him to show up in this story at the moment, but you never know what may happen in the future, so keep your eyes here for anything.
"fernandamichelleraya", I'm actually kinda caught at a crossroads on who Team SLVR faces now, to be honest. Originally, I had thought about having them face the crew from Final Fantasy XV, but now that you've mentioned the other Team SLVR, I do have to admit, that would be interesting to see. I'll have to do a little more research on the matter and see how doable each option would be. And also which one may or may not be cooler.
And as a general response review to all those folks who just posted things like "please update" or whatever, thank you for your patience, and sorry again for the long wait. It was not my intention for it to be so long before this story was updated again, but now that Enter the Spider-Verse: A Code Avengers Story is done, I'm gonna be bringing my attention back to both this and some of my other stories again. Hopefully I won't be making you guys wait for such a long period of time for any updates on this story again any time soon, and glad to hear you're all still enjoying both this story and some of my other ones as well.
Well, I'd say that wraps things up here for now. Man was this a long one. But there's still one last thing to do before we're really finished with this chapter. You all know what I'm talking about right? Of course you do. It's to move Onto the Preview!...
With the crisis on Toy Box dealt with, the team is ready to get back on the road with their main objective for the trip again. The next couple of stops though will see certain members of the team having some very interesting encounters. More than that, some of the Keyblade wielders will get to meet up with some old friends as well, and see just how different some of them have become since the last time they all met. Overall though, they're a rather simple couple of visits, but they still promise to be fun ones, and you can bear witness to it all, next time.
...I know, not a very extensive preview, but there's not really much more I could've said without giving everything away. Oh well. Time to bid you all adieu for now.
Oh, and once again, be sure to check out my YouTube channel "Studio Fandom" and the DeviantArt page "studiofandom" if you haven't already. Always looking for more followers and subscribers on both. And as always...
Please read and review, and may your heart be your guiding key for your landing strategy.